Why is Castle Doctrine needed for Nebraska?
By Chris Z., Past President of the NFOA, in response to an article in the Omaha World Herald
Nebraska has pretty straightforward use of force laws, however there are a couple things that need to be fixed to protect the honest, law-abiding hard working people here in Nebraska. Currently if someone breaks into your home you are justified in using deadly force to protect yourself or your family only if you believe you are facing Death, Serious Bodily Injury, Kidnapping or Sexual Assault. Of course this is a pretty reasonable standard.
What most people don't realize though is that if you use deadly force, the burden of proof is no longer on the Prosecution to prove you committed a crime. You are guilty until you prove yourself "justified". The burden of proof shifts from the Prosecutor to the homeowner who used deadly force. This is the "Affirmative Defense", basically you have to say, "Yes I am responsible for a homicide, but I was justified". And now you have to prove why you were justified to defend a homicide charge. I am pretty confident that the Lancaster County Attorney understands this and simply he must have been misunderstood in the January 2nd OWH article, when he was quoted as saying "If people claim self-defense, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were not justified in their actions".
The Lancaster County Attorney also stated in your article. "Changing the law so people shoot without hesitation could lead to people killing a family member coming home late or a person pounding on the door in the middle of the night seeking help". What is Mr. Lacey basing this assumption on? Is this the case in other 23+ states that have similar laws? Of course not. The standard for when you can use force is still pretty clear. You cannot just shoot someone because they are pounding on your door (You cannot under current law, and you could not under the proposed law). It is completely false statements such as this that are used to intentionally mislead the general public.
What is really not right with Nebraska's current law is even though a homeowner shoots an intruder in their house, and they are found to be justified under criminal law.... The homeowner can still be sued in a civil court by the criminal (if just injured) for personal injury compensation or by the criminals' survivors for wrongful death. While such suits are typically not successful, how would you like to spend your life savings or sell your home to defend yourself against these baseless lawsuits just because you were defending your family in your own home? When someone make a decision to be a criminal and break into someone's home, they should not have any course of civil action.
Senator Christensen's proposed changes do not loosen the standard for using deadly force in Nebraska, rather it is just offers further protections to the homeowner defending their lives and takes away the potential civil actions. Calling this proposed law the "Make My Day Law" or the "Shoot Your Neighbor Law" can only be done by someone who is completely uninformed on this issue.
A lawmaker who opposes Senator Christensen's Castle Doctrine legislation is representing the criminals interests more so than they are representing the honest, hard working, law-abiding citizens of Nebraska.
Link to the OWH article: