The law does not require a warning or a waiting period to determine the intent of the trespasser before taking action to defend against the intrusion.
Californian Joe Balistreri may have thought the law extended that protection to him when was faced with just that situation when he spent the night at his parents’ home.
Balistreri told CBS reporters in Foster City, California, “I heard the noise coming from the front door. I heard clicking, rattling of the door handle. I woke up my father, told him someone's trying to break into your house, where's your gun?”
Police reports showed that the intruder entered the home through the garage after attempting to come through the front door. “This guy is now in my house. There was no knocking, there was no announcement, there was no nothing,” Balistreri said.
Coming face-to-face with the 6’4” man in the darkened home, Balistreri fired three shots, wounding, but not killing the intruder.
Clearly, the “Castle Doctrine” applied, and Balistreri was not charged with a crime, but the intruder filed a civil suit to recover damages for his injuries sustained in the break-in.
A motion to dismiss the suit as frivolous was filed by Balistreri’s attorneys at the outset, but was denied and the case was tried on the “victim’s” defense that he was intoxicated at the time of the break-in and believed he was entering a friend’s house.
Eventually, the trial judge agreed with Balistreri’s defense, finding in his favor, but in the process, the intruder forced Balistreri to incur massive legal fees of more than $85,000, leaving him no other alternative than to start a GoFundMe page to beg for contributions.
“This guy put a huge burden on my shoulders,” Balistreri said.
He might well wonder if he would not have been better off had he been a better shot.