No Duty to Retreat When Doing a Lawful Act and Suddenly Attacked
Decarlos Coleman v. Commonwealth, Va. App. (2002 Unpublished)
"Appellant next contends the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on self-defense. We disagree.
"Self-defense is an affirmative defense which the accused must prove by introducing sufficient evidence to raise a reasonable doubt about his guilt." Smith v. Commonwealth, 17 Va. App. 68, 71, 435 S.E.2d 414, 416 (1993) (citing McGhee v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 560, 562, 248 S.E.2d 808, 810 (1978); Yarborough v. Commonwealth, 217 Va. 971, 979, 234 S.E.2d 286, 292 (1977)). "[A] person assaulted while in the discharge of a lawful act, and reasonably apprehending that his assailant will do him bodily harm, has the right to repel the assault by all the force he deems necessary, and is not compelled to retreat from his assailant, but may, in turn, become the assailant, inflicting bodily wounds until his person is out of danger." Dodson v. Commonwealth, 159 Va. 976, 979, 167 S.E. 260, 260 (1933) (quoting Jackson's Case, 96 Va. 107, 30 S.E. 452 (1898))."
See Also : Gilbert v. Commonwealth, 28 Va. App. 466, 473, 506 S.E.2d 543, 546 (1998).
No Duty to Retreat in Your Home/Curtilage
"One, in his own curtilage, who is free from fault in bringing on the combat, when attacked by another, has the same right of conduct, without any retreat (i. e. to stand at bay and resist as fault), even to the taking of life, that one has when within his own home. See note to 5 Am. & Eng. Anno. Cas. 999 and cases cited, among them Beard v. United States, 158 U.S. 550, 15 S. Ct. 962, 39 L. Ed. 1086, approved in Alberty v. United States, 162 U.S. 499, 16 S. Ct. 864, 40 L. Ed. 1051. What force one, on his own premises, may use to eject another therefrom, short of endangering human life or of doing great bodily harm, was the subject of consideration in Montgomery's Case, 98 Va. 840, 842-3, 36 S.E. 371; Montgomery v. Commonwealth, 99 Va. 833, 835-6, 37 S.E. 841. But in no case, even within one's own home, or curtilage, is a person wholly justified in taking the life of another, who has entered the home or curtilage peaceably on an implied license, merely to punish or subdue him or to compel him to leave the premises, where there is no apparent intent on the part of the latter to commit any felony. Dodson v. Commonwealth, 159 Va. 976, 979, 167 S.E. 260, 260 (1933).
As said in 1 Bish. New Cr. Law (8th Ed.), sections 857, 858: "* * the general rule is that while a man may use all reasonable and necessary force to defend his real and personal estate, of which he is in the actual possession, against another who comes to dispossess him without right, he cannot innocently carry this defense to the extent of killing the aggressor. If no other way is open to him, he must yield, and get himself righted by resort to the law. A seeming exception to this rule is the --
— "Defense of the Castle. — In the early times our forefathers were compelled to protect themselves in their habitations by converting them into holds of defense: and so the dwelling house was called the castle. To this condition of things the law has conformed, resulting in the familiar doctrine that while a man keeps the doors of his house closed, no other may break and enter it, except in particular circumstances to make an arrest or the like - cases not within the line of our present exposition. From this doctrine is derived another: namely, that the persons within the house may exercise all needful force to keep aggressors out, even to the taking of life. As observed by Campbell, J., in Michigan, 'a man is not obliged to retreat if assaulted in his dwelling, but may use such means as are absolutely necessary to repel the assailant from his house or prevent his forcible entry, even to the taking of life' * *."
But the same learned work continues, in section 858, as follows:
" 1. Waiving Castle. — One may waive the protection of his castle by permitting another to enter; * *."
" 2. Putting out of the Castle. — If a man enters another's dwelling house peaceable on an implied license, he cannot be ejected except on request to leave, followed by no more than the necessary and proper force, even though misbehaving himself therein.
* * Hence a needless battery, resulting in death, employed in ejecting an intruder from the dwelling-house, will constitute felonious homicide."
There is no evidence in the case in judgment tending to show that the deceased entered the premises of the accused by force. He was there, and was greeted in a manner which indicated that he was there by permission of the accused, before the affray began. His subsequent conduct, granting that it was misconduct, did not justify the killing of him, unless that conduct was such as to justify it on the part of the accused under the settled doctrine applicable to the killing of an assailant by one in defence of his own person.
Therefore, none of the instructions in the case should have been predicated upon the existence or non-existence of the circumstance of the ordering of the deceased off the premises, since that is an immaterial circumstance so far as the instant case is concerned and could serve no purpose but to mislead the jury, unless they were more fully instructed on that subject than they were. "
"The only case in which the law does not require the party to retreat at all, or under any circumstances, is when he' is assaulted in his own house; there he need not fly as far as he can; for he has the protection of his house to excuse him from flying; as that would be to give up by his flight the possession of his house to his adversary. But in this as in other cases, the assault must be of such a character as to expose him to imminent danger. " See Also : Beard v. United States 158 U.S. 550 (1896).