Like most people in Morgantown, you certainly hope to never be in a position where you feel forced to act aggressively towards another. At the same time (and again, like most people locally), if and when such a situation arises, you feel prepared to do so. 

The question is to what extent the law allows you to do so. You likely hear claims of self-defense in response to criminal accusations all the time; correctly citing it in your case depends on the circumstances of the encounter that brought you under criminal scrutiny. 

The Castle Doctrine 

Most states do indeed have laws detailing when the lawful use of defensive force. For the most part, all follow to general legal principles. The first is the “Stand Your Ground” philosophy, which proposes that you should have no duty to retreat from any situation in which another threatens you and you were not the aggressor in the conflict. “Stand Your Ground” usually applies to any situation, regardless of location. 

The second is “the Castle Doctrine,” which recognizes the need to defend yourself and others from another’s threatening actions, but typically limits the right to do so to places that you are legally entitled to be. 

West Virginia’s self-defense laws 

West Virginia follows the latter philosophy. According to Section 2564 of the Code of West Virginia, you can use force (even deadly force) to defend yourself, your family members and others when you have a reasonable fear of death or serious injury. The state assumes that fear to be present anytime an intruder unlawfully attempts to enter your home ur vehicle (or to forcefully remove you or another from either of those locations). Exercising your rights under this law makes you immune from both criminal prosecution and civil liability. 

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