Can anyone cite a legal source for aduty to retreat in NC?
I can. Having practiced law in North Carolina for over 25 years now, most of which have been spent in the district, superior, and appellate courts of this state, here is what the law is in North Carolina.
In State v. Stevenson, 81 N.C. App. 409,
a 1986 case out of Guilford County, the Court applies the ruleas follows: The duty to retreat requires a victim of an assault to retreat to the wall before using deadly force in self-defense. North Carolina recognizes the so-called castle doctrine as an exception to the retreat rule. A person is not obliged to retreat when assaulted while in his or her dwelling house or within the curtilage thereof, whether the assailant be an intruder or another lawful occupant of the premises.
Neither permanency of residence nor a leasehold interest in a premises is required before a person is legally justified in standing her ground, rather than retreating before using deadly force in self-defense. One must show only that she is a member of a household, however temporarily, and that she possesses an intent to reside in that particular place at the time of the attack.
Although this case is about 20 years old now, it still remains good law. Actually, in 2004 the appellate court overturned a manslaughter verdict in State v. Everett
, and remandedthe case because theJudge failed to give an instruction on the duty to retreat in one's home, thus emphasizing the fact that you just don't have to.
So, that being said, if you are out in public, you must retreat prior to using deadly force. If the force being used against you is, say a bottle or a brick, you'd better retreat, or be ready to face a Jury that may consider neither of those objects "deadly" when used against you. In other words, if you escalate the force to deadly force, you can be held in the wrong. But, to stay on topic, if you are in your own home, or where you reside, permanently or temporarily, you can use deadly force to protect yourself.