There is a serious misunderstanding of the so-called Castle Doctrine. What it does not allow is the use of deadly force anytime someone breaks into your home, even if force is used.

There are two things which must exist for the so-called Castle doctrine defense:

The use of deadly force in defense of a dwelling is justified only when two factors are present. First, the victim’s entry must be made in a “violent, riotous, or tumultuous manner.” Second, the defendant’s subjective belief that deadly force is necessary to prevent an assault upon, or an offer of personal violence to, him or another in the dwelling must be reasonable. People v. Sawyer, 115 Ill. 2d 184, 192, 503 N.E.2d 331, 335 (1986)

Each of the two factors are subject to a high level of practical leeway on what constitutes a reasonable belief and what constitutes a violent, riotous, or tumultuous entry. One jury’s “reasonable belief” is another jury’s unreasonable belief.

One Illinois Appellate Court has held that a person is not held to a standard of perfect judgment on whether there was a reasonable doubt of the use of deadly force:

“[T]he party assailed is not expected to have perfect judgment.” People v. Shipp, 52 Ill. App. 3d 470, 477, 10 Ill.Dec. 357, 367 N.E.2d 966 (1977).

However, the same Court also held that the reasonableness of a defendant’s subjective belief that he was justified in using deadly force is a question of fact for the fact finder. People v. Yanez, 2022 IL App (3d) 200007, ¶¶ 29-30, 208 N.E.3d 517, 523, reh’g denied (June 1, 2022), appeal denied, 197 N.E.3d 1098 (Ill. 2022)

People v. Eatman, 405 Ill. 491, 498, 91 N.E.2d 387 (1950), held that [A] man’s habitation is one place where he may rest secure in the knowledge that he will not be disturbed by persons coming within, without proper invitation or warrant, and that he may use all of the
force apparently necessary to repel any invasion of his home. People v Yanez cited this case but also held the use of deadly force must be reasonable.

This state of the law needs to be amended to fall in line with People v. Eatman. It isreasonable to provide that a person breaking into a home in any manner should be held to have assumed the risk of coming in contact with deadly force. But for now, the burden is on the homeowner to establish that his or her use of force was objectively reasonable.