COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - If an intruder comes in to your house, do you have rights when it comes to protecting yourself?
The "Castle Doctrine" is a law in both Georgia and Alabama that gives homeowners the right to defend themselves if an intruder enters the property of their home.
It is called the "Castle Law" because citizens can consider their home as a castle, and they have the right to protect it. Other laws, such as "Do Not Retreat", help blanket potential victims from becoming suspects.
Major Randy Robertson with the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office said, "Citizens who find themselves in situations where they find themselves threatened with severe injury or death can protect themselves with whatever level of force necessary."
There are some stipulations to this law. If you are both outside on your property, you have every right to shoot, but if you are inside your home and the intruder is outside, you have to wait until the suspect crosses that threshold before you can defend yourself.
"If you are inside your house, secure, and someone comes into your front yard, I don't think the law would extend outside of your home because you are under no imminent threat," Robertson explained.
You also have to take into consideration just how threatening the individual is, meaning if a small female was coming towards a large man, he wouldn't necessarily be covered by the law. But Robertson says if the roles are reversed, "Georgia law interprets the threat and some of those situations, especially a small female and the aggressor is a male, and he comes to the door armed, the citizen has to make an adjustment and an evaluation of the situation and handle it to what they think is best to protect themselves."
Of course, depending on the situation, the District Attorney will have to determine if any charges will be filed against the homeowner.