The defense of one’s home is a major concern for most citizens. The degree to which an individual can use force or even lethal force in defense of their homes has received great attention and debate over the past years. This paper looks at the laws regarding self-defense in Maryland.
Maryland does not have self-defense laws written as legislation, but they have many case laws that serve as guidelines in such situations. Self-defense does not only apply at home (Barker 1). The defense law of Maryland stipulates that any person using force intended or likely to cause harm shall be to have experienced a reasonable fear of great bodily harm or death to family, self, or member of the household when that force is against another person (Kadish, Schulhofer, and Steiker 1).
A major case that illustrates self-defense in Maryland is the case of a college student, John Pontillo who found his house burglarized, but believed that the burglar was still inside the house (Smigiel 1). Armed with a katana and accompanied by his classmate, they searched the house and later found the burglar hiding in the back yard, and informed his classmates to call the police. The unarmed burglar heard this and charged at Pontolillo, who sensed danger and stabbed him to death. This case indicates that killing unarmed burglar is in Maryland if they pose a danger to the owner of the house (Michalowski 31).
In conclusion, Maryland does not expressly prohibit the use of deadly force, and this remains the responsibility of the judge to interpret the rule of the law and interpretation of events. In addition, regardless of the law, every human being has the basic right to self-defense.
Barker, Jeff. “Bill Would Shield Business Owners Using Deadly Force From Civil Suits.” The Sun. 27 March 2001. Web 16 Feb 2014. < http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2001-03-27/news/0103270219_1_carroll-county-geckle-body-armor>
Kadish, H.Sanford, Schulhofer J. Stephen, and Steiker S.Carol. Criminal Law and Its Processes: Cases and Materials (8th ed.). Alphen aan den Rijn, South Holland: Aspen Publishers, 2007. Print.
Michalowski, Kevin. The Gun Digest Book of Guns for Personal Defense: Arms & Accessories for Self-Defense. NY: Gun Digest Books, 2004. Print.
Smigiel, Delegate. “Maryland Governor Signs “Castle Doctrine” Bill.” Mike Smigiel. 21 May, 2010. Web 16 Feb. 2014. <http://delegatemike.com/maryland-governor-signs-castle-doctrine-bill/>