Missouri Castle Doctrine Defined After Burglars are Held at Gunpoint

Over a four-day span in Springfield, MO, Green County sheriff’s deputies and Springfield police officers nabbed five suspected burglars thanks to the assistance of law-abiding gun owners.

In both cases, individuals with valid gun licenses tracked down the robbers and held them at gunpoint until police arrived.  No one was injured. 

While many would argue that this ended in the best way possible (unlike the Waffle House incident from a few weeks ago), it underscored some of the limitations of Missouri’s Castle Doctrine

For starters, one must establish reasonable belief that deadly force is necessary to protect himself/herself or another against death or serious physical injury before it is considered justified in a court of law.   

In other states like Florida and Texas, it’s presumed that if someone enters one’s home, car, or business unlawfully, that intruder intends to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence, therefore deadly force is justified.

Another point that was raised by Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, was that in both instances, the gun owners weren’t protecting their own houses and properties, they were protecting someone else’s which would not necessarily give them the same Castle Doctrine rights. 

In the cast of Chad Woolsey, he detained a burglar at his brother’s house until police arrived.  They ended up arresting Michael Price, 26, at Woolsey’s brother’s house and his accomplice who fled the scene (Price’s wife) Brandy Price, 24, on her way back to their home in Buffalo.

“I was fortunate that it turned out like it did.  I guess I was prepared to do what I had to do,” said Chad Woolsey.

Similarly, Ken Richardson and his brother-in-law stopped three burglars from robbing a vacant property belonging to a family member.  The two gun owners confronted the three young men with a gun and a machete and detained them until police arrived. 

Police arrested James Young, 19; Brandon Matthews, 22; and a juvenile for that burglary.

“We made it real clear to get down on the ground and show us their hands,” Richardson told local reporters.

“We didn’t give that a whole lot of thought as far as potentially what could happen.” 

Had things turned out violently in either scenario, Woolsey, Richardson and/or his brother-in-law could have been prosecuted without the protection of the Castle Doctrine. 

As mentioned, they didn’t personally own the property and they weren’t occupying it at the time of the robbery.

“No piece of property is worth risking your life our another person’s over,” said Patterson.

“If you were to drive up to your house and you were to see an intruder running away with a big-screen TV in their arms, you could not use deadly force to protect and retrieve that property.  In that situation, there was no threat posed to you or your person,” Patterson told reporters. 

What do you think? 

Should one have the full protection of the Castle Doctrine if he/she is protecting someone else’s home and/or property (the case of Joe Horn comes to mind)? 

Additionally, should one need to establish reasonable belief of imminent danger before deadly force is justified?  Or should it be presumed that intruder intends to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence?