Tennessee Castle Doctrine
In addition to Stand Your Ground laws, Tennessee has also adopted the Castle Doctrine, Just like the words “stand your ground,” the words “Castle Doctrine” do not appear in the Tennessee code. These laws relate to the justification of force used within your residence, dwelling, or vehicle. The ideas encompassed by the Castle Doctrine are found in Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-11-611(c), which states:
"(c) Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury within a residence, business, dwelling or vehicle is presumed to have held a reasonable belief of imminent death or serious bodily injury to self, family, a member of the household or a person visiting as an invited guest, when that force is used against another person, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence, business, dwelling or vehicle, and the person using defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred."
Tennessee Castle Law
Tennessee extends the presumption of the Castle Doctrine to those within any of the following:
- “Residence” – a dwelling in which a person resides, either temporarily or permanently, or is visiting as an invited guest, or any dwelling, building or other appurtenance within the curtilage of the residence;
- “Dwelling” – a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, that has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed for or capable of use by people;
- “Business” – a commercial enterprise or establishment owned by a person as all or part of the person's livelihood or is under the owner's control or who is an employee or agent of the owner with responsibility for protecting persons and property and shall include the interior and exterior premises of the business; and
- “Vehicle” – any motorized vehicle that is self-propelled and designed for use on public highways to transport people or property.
It is important to remember that you will not have the presumption granted under the Castle Doctrine if the person against whom the deadly force was used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, business, residence, or vehicle. Nor will you have its protection if the person against whom the deadly force was used is a law enforcement officer who has entered in the performance of his or her lawful duties.
As always, if you have any questions on Tennessee’s laws regarding self-defense and use of force, please contact U.S. LawShield and ask to be connected to your Independent Program Attorney.
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