A self-defense bill, known as the Castle Doctrine, would shield people from unfair prosecution.
Under legislation at the state capitol, a person can claim self-defense after hurting or killing a home intruder; it would be presumed they feared death or harm to themselves, their family, or their home. State Senator Van Wanggaard’s (R-Racine) bill (SB-79) would grant the victim immunity from civil liability.
“The criminal defendant enjoys the right of innocence until proven guilty; the victim and the homeowner should have that same presumption.”
However, under the bill, if found criminally guilty, the individual could also be subject to civil liability. Wanggaard says over 28 states already have some version of this law.
Jim Fendry of the Wisconsin Pro-Gun Movement testified in support of the measure. Committee member Senator Fred Risser asks him whether a homeowner already has the right of self-defense in their house.
“Basically, if somebody enters your home right now,” Fendry says, “they’re nothing more than a trespasser. If deadly force or even the threat of deadly force is used against this person, they (the homeowners) are criminally liable and civilly liable.”
Fendry suggests amendments to clear up some ambiguities. Among other things, he would include barns, sheds and garages with the home. Darren LaSorte with the National Rifle Association would change the word “residence” to “dwelling” so RVs, cabins, and hotel rooms could be considered “temporary castles.”
Nobody testified against the measure, however the State Bar of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Association for Justice registered in opposition to the bill.
The self-defense bill had a public hearing Thursday at the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce, and Government Operations.