RNH Law Blog

Castle Doctrine and Illinois Law

CastleDoes Illinois have a Castle Doctrine? My answer is: it depends. Although that answer is technically accurate, it tends to leave people a tad annoyed. It doesn’t give them the “yes” or “no” that they wanted. Illinois does not have a statute titled “Castle Doctrine”. However, there are multiple statutes that work as a form of Castle Doctrine.

Defense of a person

Illinois law first clarifies when a person can use force in defense of themselves or another person. “A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.” 720 ILCS 5/7-1(a). Furthermore, a person is only able to use deadly force if, “he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another, or the commission of a forcible felony.” Id.

Defense of a dwelling

The next statute covers use of force in defense of a home. “A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate such other’s unlawful entry into or attack upon a dwelling.” 720 ILCS 5/7-2(a). This section then defines that deadly force is justified only if, “(1) The entry is made or attempted in a violent, riotous, or tumultuous manner, and he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent an assault upon, or offer of personal violence to, him or another then in the dwelling, or (2) He reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the commission of a felony in the dwelling.” 720 ILCS 5/7-2(a)(1), 720 ILCS 5/7-2(a)(2).

What’s important to note is that using deadly force to defend a dwelling must meet one of two conditions: 1. The entry is made in a violent, riotous, or tumultuous manner AND the person reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to prevent an assault or violence to someone in the dwelling; OR, 2. The person believes that deadly force is necessary to prevent a felony in the dwelling. The first condition has two parts to it and they must both be satisfied for someone to use deadly force. Specifically, the aggressor must make entry into the home in a violent manner and the person using deadly force must have a reasonable belief that it is necessary to prevent violence against someone in the dwelling.

So, is that a “yes”?

Castle Doctrine in Illinois does not allow you to use deadly force against any intruder in your home. Illinois law allows a person to protect their home. But the use of deadly force is qualified by requiring much more than a simple trespass before deadly force is justified. So, depending on your definition of “Castle Doctrine” Illinois may, or may not, meet that definition.

When someone asks if Illinois has a Castle Doctrine the answer truly does depend on how someone defines what it is. People who feel that they should have the right to use deadly force against any trespasser will say that Illinois does not. However, people who feel that there needs to be an aggressor committing additional acts will find that Illinois has a Castle Doctrine.

My answer… it depends.