Car Trouble? Breaking Down Missouri’s Expansion of the Castle Doctrine to Vehicles

A recent Supreme Court of Missouri ruling expanded the Castle Doctrine to vehicles. Yet, the ruling creates questions for Missourians, resulting in a need for legislative action.

By: Lauren E. Nichols*

State v. Straughter, 643 S.W.3d 317 (Mo. 2022) (en banc)

I.   Introduction

            Picture a castle in your mind.  What do you see?  Cinderella’s iconic home?[1]  The dark silhouette of Hogwarts?[2]  A guarded Buckingham Palace?[3]  What about your humble abode?  Or your friend’s car?  In State v. Straughter, the Supreme Court of Missouri held the defendant was entitled to a Castle Doctrine jury instruction while seated in a loaned car.[4]  The result of this instruction was not your typical happily ever after.  The instruction may justify the defendant’s use of deadly force when she shot the assailant who punched her through the vehicle’s open window.[5]  

            Missouri’s Castle Doctrine allows a defendant to use deadly force when she reasonably believes it necessary to defend against the use of force by an assailant unlawfully attempting to enter her home or vehicle.[6]  The court ultimately found substantial evidence supported the defendant’s reasonable beliefs and her use of deadly force coincided with her assailant’s use of force.[7]  The court held the trial court’s refusal to give a Castle Doctrine instruction prejudiced the defendant and entitled her to a new trial.[8]  The Castle Doctrine is difficult to apply here because the traditional doctrine was made for castles—not chariots—and Missouri’s self-defense statute does not fill in the gaps.

            Part II recounts the dramatic altercation leading to the defendant’s use of deadly force.  Part III dives into the history and purpose of self-defense in the United States, analyzing the origins of the Castle Doctrine and the evolution, interpretation, and expansion of the Missouri statute codifying it.  Part IV examines the Supreme Court of Missouri’s majority and dissenting opinions.  Part V argues Missouri’s self-defense statue should be amended to clarify the scope of Missourians’ self-defense rights under the Castle Doctrine.

II.   FACTS AND HOLDING

            Andrea Straughter (“Defendant”) was convicted of two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of armed criminal action and sentenced to ten years in prison.[9]   On the day of the altercation resulting in her conviction, Defendant agreed to give her friend, Nichols Ward, a ride in the car he loaned her.[10]  Defendant did not know where she was taking him until they pulled up to the home of Ward’s ex-girlfriend, Markysha Randell, who was standing outside visibly armed and making threats.[11]  Ward exited the vehicle armed with one handgun and left another gun in the passenger seat.[12]  Randell handed her gun off to her sister and walked over to Defendant, who was still seated in the vehicle, and asked why she drove Ward.[13]  When Defendant responded that she did not have to explain herself, Randell reached through the open car window and punched Defendant in the face.[14]  Randell’s sister ran toward the vehicle, armed with her own gun.[15]  Defendant quickly reached for the gun in the passenger seat and shot twice without aiming, hitting Randell in the stomach.[16] 

            At a hearing before her jury trial, Defendant requested two self-defense related instructions: (1) a general self-defense instruction, and (2) a Castle Doctrine instruction which permits a person lawfully occupying a vehicle to use deadly force to defend against imminent use of force by someone unlawfully entering the vehicle.[17]  Regarding the second defense, the State argued Defendant’s use of deadly force occurred after Randell had exited the vehicle and objected to the instruction.[18]  The trial court agreed with the State and only granted the general self-defense jury instruction, after which the jury found Defendant guilty on all counts.[19] 

             Defendant argued on appeals to the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District and the Supreme Court of Missouri that the trial court erred in rejecting her request for a Castle Doctrine jury instruction based on evidence showing she was assaulted while in her car.[20]  The Eastern District denied this point and affirmed the lower court’s judgment, reasoning Randell’s assault was “temporally-limited” and followed by an “immediate retreat” with no indication of further attempted entry.[21]  A majority of the state’s highest court, however, held that the trial court erred by refusing to give a Castle Doctrine instruction when substantial evidence showed Defendant’s use of deadly force was reasonably believed necessary to defend against her assailant’s use of unlawful force and coincided with her assailant’s unlawful entry into the vehicle’s open window.[22]    

III.  Legal Background

            The Castle Doctrine, as currently enacted in Missouri, is the product of hundreds of years of reflection into the purposes and implications of permitting self-defense. This Part explores the roots of the common law Castle Doctrine before turning to how states have codified and expanded it, specifically examining Missouri’s self-defense statute.

A.   The Roots of the Castle Doctrine

            Under English common law, a person attacked by an assailant was required to “retreat to the wall” before claiming the use of deadly force was necessary.[23]  Even with this rule, courts allowed an exception for when the defender was threatened in his own home called the Castle Doctrine, after Sir Edward Coke’s saying, “Every man’s home is his castle.”[24]  The primary rationale for the Castle Doctrine was that when a person is at home, he can retreat no further, and he should not be compelled to leave his “sanctuary”.[25]  Early American courts rejected the English common law’s general duty to retreat as an act of cowardice and as adverse to the “tendency of the American mind.”[26]  The Supreme Court of the United States ultimately held the same during the Self-Defense Cases, a series of cases concerning the rights and rules regarding the use of physical force in self-defense.[27]

            Several important principles emerged from the Self-Defense Cases.  First, there is no common law duty to retreat before resorting to self-defense.[28]  The Court initially addressed this rejection in Beard v. United States, Alberty v. United States, and Allen v. United States, which together stood for the principle that there was no duty to retreat when defending one’s own property ( i.e., the Castle Doctrine) or when defending against a legal interest like marriage.[29]  In subsequent cases, the Court held that a defendant is not first required to attempt to disable his attacker or to retreat from a place he has a right to be before resorting to deadly force.[30]  The Court reasoned in Brown v. United States that the “law has grown … in the direction of rules consistent with human nature” and that the abandonment of the duty to retreat was a practical decision.[31]

            An additional principle gleaned from the Self-Defense Cases was that the use of force must be in response to a reasonably held belief that great bodily harm was imminent.[32]  Moreover, a spur-of-the-moment decision to use self-defense was permissible due to the dynamic nature of situations warranting the use of self-defense.[33]  In Allen, the Court held the trial court erred by implying to the jury that the claim of self-defense is not available when the defendant does not deliberate long enough over its necessity.[34]  Essentially, the Court reversed because the trial court implied that someone making a sudden decision in defending himself should engage in the same level of deliberation as a judge presenting facts and the law to a jury.[35]  The Court reasoned that a person making an immediate life-or-death decision should be held to a lower reasonableness standard than someone with limitless time to assess the situation.[36]  The Court summarized this position in Brown as “[d]etached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife,” which has become an American mantra supporting self-defense.[37] 

            There are two important distinctions raised by the Self-Defense Cases and the Castle Doctrine.  First, the lawful use of deadly force in self-defense is subject to certain conditions.[38]  Generally, a person is only justified in using force against another when he reasonably believes such force is necessary to defend against the imminent use of unlawful force by such other person.[39]  Accordingly, a defendant is required to show that he reasonably believed his use of force was necessary and that his force was proportional to his encountered threat.[40]  These necessity and proportionality components include retreating to the furthest extent possible before using force and using the minimum amount of force required to repel the threat.[41]  Second, the use of deadly force is only justified against an assailant engaging in certain conduct.[42]  To use deadly force outside his home, a defendant would first need to attempt retreat and also reasonably believe he was threatened by imminent death or serious bodily injury.[43]  Under the Castle Doctrine, however, he is permitted to use deadly force against an intruder’s imminent threat of mere unlawful force while at home.[44]  The Castle Doctrine thus generally provides an exception to the duty to retreat and allows an additional situation when the use of deadly force is permitted: to defend against the imminent use of force by someone who is unlawfully entering your dwelling.[45] 

            The common law principles in the Self-Defense Cases laid the foundation for the modern-day codifications of self-defense and the Castle Doctrine.[46]  States have taken various approaches, but the statutes are consistent with the traditional principles behind the Castle Doctrine. For example, some states have enacted a presumption that a defendant’s use of deadly force was necessary and her belief of imminent harm was reasonable against an intruder unlawfully and forcibly entering her home.[47]  A growing number of states, including Missouri, have implemented “Stand Your Ground” laws that have completely removed the duty to retreat from any place one is lawfully present.[48]  Many states, however, have departed from the traditional application of the Castle Doctrine by expanding it to cover unlawful entries into places other than one’s home.[49]  Now, a person’s castle may include their place of work or residence.[50]  Even further, a person’s castle has become a chariot.[51]  Missouri is one state, among others, that has expanded its Castle Doctrine statute to encompass vehicles, though the expansion did not happen overnight.[52]

B.   Missouri’s Codification of Self-Defense and the Castle Doctrine

            Prior to the creation of state self-defense statutes, Missouri relied on judicial precedent to evaluate the requirements and justifications for self-defense.[53]  In 1898, the state court held in State v. Taylor that there was no duty to retreat from one’s own home, but deadly force against an intruder was permitted only when “necessary to prevent felonious destruction of his property or the commission of a felony therein, or to defend himself against a felonious assault against his life or person.”[54]  Here, the judiciary recognized the Castle Doctrine as an exception to the duty to retreat while still requiring proportionality in the use of deadly force.  Moreover, the court recognized a “defense of premises,” which allowed deadly force when the defendant reasonably believed it necessary to prevent felonies against the home, such as burglary or arson.[55]  The Missouri legislature’s initial codifications of these defenses in 1977 looked very similar to Taylor, as its holding had essentially remained the state’s general rule for defending oneself while at home.[56]

            Missouri’s first self-defense statutes permitted the use of force in three situations: in defense of (1) persons, (2) premises, or (3) property.[57]  Under these separate statutes, deadly force was permitted only when a person reasonably believed such force was necessary to protect against serious physical injury, rape, sodomy, or kidnapping, and when a person reasonably believed it necessary to prevent a trespasser from attempting to commit arson or burglary upon his dwelling.[58]  In 2007, the Missouri Legislature merged its defenses of persons, premises, and property into one statute.[59]  Under the single statute, a defendant was permitted to use deadly force in two situations.[60]  The first occurred when the defendant reasonably believed it was necessary to prevent imminent death, serious bodily injury, or a forcible felony.[61]  The second was against the imminent use of force by a person “who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle lawfully occupied by such persons.”[62]  The statute also stated a person was not obligated to retreat from her dwelling, residence, or vehicle.[63]  

            By enacting these amendments, Missouri concretely codified the traditional Castle Doctrine by allowing persons to resort to deadly force in response to the unlawful threat of force and entry without requiring them to attempt retreat first.  Missouri, however, departed from the traditional Castle Doctrine by expanding its applicability from one’s home to include entries into non-permanent locations (i.e., vehicles) and locations in which one does not have a property right (i.e., a guest), as well as to the curtilage of one’s premises.[64]  This expansion continued into 2016 when the legislature enacted Missouri’s self-defense statute as it stands today.  Under the current law, a person is not permitted use deadly force unless the person believes it necessary to defend against the imminent use of unlawful force by another and:

“(1) He or she reasonably believes that such deadly force is necessary to protect himself, or herself or her unborn child, or another against death, serious physical injury, or any forcible felony; (2)  Such force is used against a person who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle lawfully occupied by such person; or (3)  Such force is used against a person who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter private property that is owned or leased by an individual, or is occupied by an individual who has been given specific authority by the property owner to occupy the property, claiming a justification of using protective force under this section.”[65]

            These justifications for uses of deadly force are not permitted when the defendant was the initial aggressor unless he effectively communicated his withdrawal to the other person and such other person continued the incident.[66]  The statute also does not include a duty to retreat: “(1) From a dwelling, residence, or vehicle where the person is not unlawfully entering or unlawfully remaining; (2) From private property that is owned or leased by such individual; or (3) If the person is in any other location such person has the right to be.”[67]  The third provision effectively turned Missouri into a “Stand Your Ground” state by expressly expanding the exception to the duty to retreat to any place a person lawfully exists.[68]

            Missouri’s Castle Doctrine codification is seen in the current statute’s permissive use of deadly force when a person reasonably believes the use of force and an unlawful entry into her dwelling, residence, or vehicle are imminent, coupled with not requiring retreat when lawfully occupying those locations.[69]  These provisions are consistent with the traditional application of the Castle Doctrine. When the Legislature last updated the relevant chapter’s definitions in 2018, however, it defined the other terms but failed to list a definition of “vehicle.”[70]  Further, the Legislature defined “unlawfully enter” as pertaining only to premises and private property, and both are defined as encompassing only real property.[71]  By the statute’s plain language, “unlawfully enter” does not encompass entries into vehicles, and there is no clear definition as to what constitutes a vehicle.[72] 

            Over the course of four decades, the Missouri Legislature continually broadened the scope of its citizens’ self-defense rights by expanding its Castle Doctrine to encompass additional conduct and locations.  The altercation at the center of Straughter put the spotlight on the state’s expansion of this doctrine to vehicles.

IV.   Instant Decision

            In State v. Straughter, the Supreme Court of Missouri determined if Defendant was entitled to a Castle Doctrine jury instruction for defending oneself in a vehicle and held 6-to-1 that the evidence supported giving the instruction.[73]  This Part examines the majority and dissenting opinions’ reasonings in deciding the applicability of the Castle Doctrine to the underlying dispute.

A.   The Majority Opinion

            The majority held the circuit court erred in failing to instruct the jury on the Castle Doctrine, which prejudiced Defendant and entitled her to a new trial.[74]  It found that the general right of self-defense justified the defendant’s use of physical force against another person when she reasonably believed such force was necessary to defend against the use or imminent use of unlawful force by such other person.[75]  The right permits the defendant to use deadly force only when necessary to prevent against death, serious physical injury, or any forcible felony.[76]  The majority noted that under the state’s Castle Doctrine, however, the defendant is permitted to use deadly force in response to an unlawful entry and the imminent use of force by another but need not face death, serious physical injury, or any forcible felony to do so.[77] 

            Based on the preceding rules, the court found the trial court was required to give the Castle Doctrine instruction if substantial evidence supported that: (1) Defendant reasonably believed physical force was necessary to defend herself from what she reasonably believed to be the imminent use of unlawful force by Randell; and (2) Randell unlawfully entered the vehicle.[78]  The majority found substantial evidence in favor of its first requirement, relying on the facts that Defendant (a) saw Randell waving a gun moments earlier, (b) was subjected to physical force while seated in her vehicle, and (c) saw her assailant’s armed sister running towards her and her vehicle.[79]  The court then turned to whether Randell unlawfully entered the vehicle, finding she indisputably did when she reached in the open car window to punch Defendant.[80]

            Next, the majority addressed the dissent’s contention that Randell was not unlawfully in the vehicle at the precise moment Defendant used deadly force.[81]  The court agreed that a defendant is not entitled to a Castle Doctrine instruction when the unlawful entry and threat of unlawful force occurs “remotely in time or place from the use of that deadly force.”[82]  The majority, however, readily concluded that the requisite events coincided with each other, entitling Defendant to the Castle Doctrine instruction.[83]  Further, the court described this altercation as “dynamic” and taking more time to recount than to actually live it.[84]

            Viewing this evidence in the light most favorable to Defendant, the majority found substantial evidence supporting Defendant’s theory that she was justified in using deadly force because she reasonably believed it necessary to defend against Randell’s use of unlawful force while also unlawfully entering the vehicle.[85]  Additionally, the court concluded Defendant was prejudiced by the circuit court’s refusal to give the Castle Doctrine instruction.[86]  It reasoned that a jury could find Defendant was entitled to use deadly force under the Castle Doctrine instruction–but not under the general self-defense instruction–because under the former, she only needed to reasonably believe she was protecting herself against unlawful force, not the higher requirement of death or serious physical injury.[87]  Finally, the court noted that Defendant was entitled to both instructions and should not have to choose between them.[88]

B.   The Dissenting Opinion

            Judge Robin Ransom, the only dissenting judge, maintained Randell concluded her unlawful entry before Defendant employed the use of deadly force, so the Castle Doctrine did not apply.[89]  The dissent first engaged in statutory interpretation of Missouri’s Castle Doctrine, finding the legislature permits the use of deadly force when a person “unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle lawfully occupied by such person,” as long the actor reasonably believes such force is necessary to defend against the use or imminent use of unlawful force.[90]  The dissent then pointed out that the legislature’s definition of “unlawfully enter” is unhelpful because it refers only to “premises” and “private property,” and the legislature’s definitions of these terms do not encompass vehicles.[91]            The dissent also disputed the majority’s statement of facts, maintaining that Randell’s entry was not ongoing and Randell was merely near the car, making no further attempts to enter.[92]   The dissent concluded that there was enough time between Randell’s unlawful entry and exit and Defendant’s use of force for the Defendant to both see Randell’s sister running towards the vehicle and to reach for Ward’s gun, so the events could not happen simultaneously.[93]  Thus, Judge Ransom contended the trial court properly refused the Castle Doctrine instruction.[94]

V.   Comment

            The difficulty in determining whether the Castle Doctrine applies in Straughter boils down to the difficulty of taking a doctrine intended for homes and applying it to vehicles, particularly when the Missouri Legislature (“Legislature”) provides little guidance or clarification. Accordingly, the Legislature should clarify the state’s self-defense statute so that judges and Missourians alike understand the scope of their rights under the Castle Doctrine and while in their vehicles.  

            Although the Castle Doctrine was predicated in part on the distinct nature of one’s home, the same broad principles justifying the exception may explain why the Legislature chose to expand the Castle Doctrine to vehicles.  For example, one’s car may serve as her home away from home, and she may still face a life-or-death decision when seeking refuge in her vehicle.

            In the Self-Defense Cases, the Supreme Court repeatedly relied on the fact that the defendants had to make a split-second decision whether to use force when concluding the defendants were entitled to claims of self-defense.[95]  In Allen, the Court reversed because of the trial judge’s implication that the defendant should have deliberated more over whether to employ physical force in self-defense and specifically noted that the defendant should not be held to the same level of deliberation as someone with unlimited time to assess the facts.[96]  Moreover, the Brown Court stated that courts cannot expect someone to reflect on the totality of the situation in the presence of an upturned knife.[97]  Had the Brown Court heard Straughter,  the opinion’s famous line would have read: detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of a downturned fist that just punched you in the face and belongs to a person who was just waving her gun around and while her armed sister is currently running towards the car you are lawfully occupying.  The principles underlying the traditional Castle Doctrine are arguably present in a situation like Straughter.

            Additionally, Missouri’s expansion of the Castle Doctrine follows the trends of other states.[98]  This trend has been attributed to the influence and efforts by the National Rifle Association to “push back against limits on gun ownership and use.”[99]  These efforts have resulted in the “rapid spread of expanded self-defense laws” across the United States, increasing the number of states with “Stand Your Ground” laws and expanded Castle Doctrine statutes extending beyond the home.[100]  Critics of these broad self-defense laws argue that states’ enactments of the expanded  Castle Doctrine stray from the doctrine’s common law purpose and exacerbate racial inequities.[101] In addition to social and political struggles with implementing expanded Castle Doctrine statutes, there are some practical difficulties as well.

            One rather obvious difference is that cars and buildings have significant physical differences.  The expansion of the rule thus creates unprecedented scenarios that were not possible under the common law Castle Doctrine.  In one of the few, if not only, other cases where a Missouri appellate court considered the application of the Castle Doctrine to a vehicle, the court opined a circumstance could exist where being hit by another vehicle with enough force to be immobilized, allowing entry into the defendant’s vehicle, could give rise to a Castle Doctrine defense.[102]   Similarly, under the expanded Castle Doctrine, people meeting the criteria of their state’s relevant statute may use this defense while out in public, like in retail or restaurant parking lots or on state-operated highways, raising additional situations outside of the typical application to one’s home.

            The struggle to apply the Castle Doctrine to vehicles is also reflected in Missouri’s self-defense statute.  The statute fails to include a definition of “vehicle,” and the provided definition of “unlawful entry” contemplates only entries into real property.[103]  Given that the Castle Doctrine was traditionally limited to homes, its application to vehicles is unsettled in real life as the Legislature failed to give any guidance on how unlawful entries apply to vehicles or what even constitutes a vehicle under state law. How far does the term “vehicle” stretch? Could it include motorcycles? Bicycles? Public buses or trains? Missouri’s definition for “dwelling” requires the structure to have a roof over it.[104]  Would the same apply to vehicles?  Although there was no dispute in Straughter as to whether the Defendant was occupying a vehicle, this question could arise soon as Missourians rely on the Castle Doctrine in self-defense.  And though it is undisputed that Randell unlawfully entered the vehicle when she reached in the window, altercations involving cars raise questions as to what actions could constitute attempted entries.

            Because of the lack of clarity in Missouri’s self-defense statute, the Legislature should amend its definition of “unlawfully enter” to include entries into vehicles, in addition to providing guidance on what constitutes a vehicle and unlawful entries into vehicles.  This would help Missourians understand the scope of their rights under the Castle Doctrine.  Without an amendment, Missourians may wrongly believe their actions are justified under the Castle Doctrine or, if on the other side of an altercation, may not realize their actions could subject them to the lawful use of deadly force.

            The Legislature should look to the expanded Castle Doctrine statutes in other states.  For example, Texas defines “vehicle” as any device propelling, moving, or drawing people or property during commerce or transportation, excluding devices classified as habitation.[105]  Tennessee’s definition specifies it must be a motorized, self-propelled vehicle designed to transport people and property for use on public highways.[106]  Florida defines a vehicle as any conveyance designed to transport people and property, specifying that it need not be motorized.[107]  Because a vehicle can be defined broadly or narrowly, the Legislature should specify which types of conveyances and devises used by Missourians are protected under its Castle Doctrine.  The Legislature should also include “vehicle” alongside “premises” and “private property” within the definition of “unlawful entry.”   Though most states with expanded Castle Doctrines fail to include a specific definition for “unlawful entry,” the Missouri Legislature should amend its definition to both include “vehicles” and clarify what constitutes an unlawful entry into a vehicle.  Because of the risk of unnecessary and unjustified violence under Missouri’s Castle Doctrine, the state’s self-defense statute should be more specific with the conduct and places it intends to protect.

VI.   Conclusion

            Missouri’s expansion of its Castle Doctrine to vehicles leaves Missourians with questions regarding the scope of their self-defense rights under current state law.  When a situation implicating Missouri’s Castle Doctrine arises, legal professionals should take note of the Supreme Court of Missouri’s decision in State v. Straughter concerning the temporal element of the defense, especially when asserted outside the home.  Moreover, those on either side of a dispute should be aware of how their physical conduct and location may make the difference between a murder and a justified killing, which has crucial consequences for both the victim and potential defendant.  Given the importance of understanding one’s interests in an altercation where the use of deadly force may be justified and the uncertainty of how the current law works in practice, Missouri’s self-defense statute should be amended to better reflect how the Castle Doctrine should apply to vehicles.  

Footnotes

* B.A., American University, 2020; J.D. Candidate, University of Missouri–Columbia School of Law, 2024; Associate Member, Missouri Law Review, 2022–2023.

[1] See Cinderella’s Castle, Disney, https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/magickingdom/cinderella-castle/ (last visited May 6, 2023). 

[2] See generally The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal studios, https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/universal-orlando-resort/the-wizarding-world-of-harry-potter/hub (last visited May 6, 2023).

[3] See Visit Buckingham Palace, Royal Collection Trust, https://www.rct.uk/visit/buckingham-palace (last visited May 6, 2023).

[4] State v. Straughter, 643 S.W.3d 317, 327 (Mo. 2022) (en banc).

[5] Id.

[6] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031.2(3). All statutory references are to Mo. Rev. Stat. (2016), unless otherwise stated.

[7] Straughter, 643 S.W.3d at 325.

[8] Id.

[9] Id. at 321. Under Missouri statute, a person is guilty of “armed criminal action” when she “commits any felony under the laws of this state by, with, or through the use, assistance, or aid of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon.” Mo. Rev. Stat. § 571.015(1).

[10] Straughter, 643 S.W.3d at 320.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id. The record is unclear as to whether Randell punched or slapped Straughter. Id.

[15] Id. Straughter testified she saw Randell’s sister run towards her. Id.

[16] Id.  Randell grabbed the vehicle’s door as she slid to the ground, where she remained. Id.  Defendant then drove away and fired one last shot, hitting Randell’s sister in the foot. Id.

[17] Id. at 321.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] State v. Straughter, 2021 WL 1618643, at *3 (Mo. App. 2021). Straughter argued three points on appeal to the Eastern District, but this point was the only issue appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court. Id at *1;  Straughter, 643 S.W.3d at 322.

[21] Straughter, 2021 WL 1618643 at *3.

[22] Straughter, 643 S.W.3d at 323.

[23] Linda S. Buettner, A Tendency of the American Mind: No Duty to Retreat, 6 Fairmount Folio: J. History 1, 1–2 (2004).

[24] Semayne’s Case, 77 Eng. Rep. 194 (K.B 1603); Catherine L. Carpenter, Of the Enemy Within, the Castle Doctrine, and Self-Defense, 86 Marq. L. Rev. 653, n. 10 (2003).

[25] Carpenter, supra note 24, at 656; People v. Tomlins, 107 N.E. 496, 497 (N.Y. 1914) (“[f]light is for sanctuary and shelter, and shelter, if not sanctuary, is in the home.”).

[26] See Runyan v. State, 57 Ind. 80, 84 (Ind. 1877); Beard v. United States, 158 U.S. 550, 561–62 (1895); Buettner, supra note 23, at 4.

[27] See generally David B. Kopel, The Self-Defense Cases: How the United States Supreme Court Confronted A Hanging Judge In The Nineteenth Century And Taught Some Lessons For Jurisprudence In The Twenty-First, 27 Am. J. of Crim. L. 293 (2000).  The federal court had jurisdiction over these cases because they stemmed from disputes arising on federal land. Id. at 296.

[28] See Beard v. United States, 158 U.S. 550, 564; See Brown v. United States, 256 U.S. 335, 343 (1921).

[29] Beard, 158 U.S. at 564; Alberty v. United States, 162 U.S. 493, 498 (1896). The Supreme Court examined Allen v. United States three times during the Self-Defense Cases. See Allen v. United States, 150 U.S. 551, 561 (1893) and Allen v. United States, 164 U.S. 493, 502 (1896).

[30] Rowe v. United States, 164 U.S. 546, 558 (1896); Brown, 256 U.S. at 344.

[31] Brown, 256 U.S. at 343.

[32] See Allen, 164 U.S. at 497.

[33] See Allen, 150 U.S. at 561.

[34] See id.

[35] Id.; David B. Kopel, The Self-Defense Cases: How The United States Supreme Court Confronted A Hanging Judge In The Nineteenth Century And Taught Some Lessons For Jurisprudence In The Twenty-First, 27 Am. J. of Crim. L. 294, 313 (2000).

[36] Allen, 150 U.S. at 561 (1893); Kopel, supra note 35, at 313.

[37] Brown v. United States, 256 U.S. 335, 344 (1921); Kopel, supra note 35, at 319.

[38] Joshua Dressler, Understanding Criminal Law 211 (8th ed. 2018).

[39] Id. at 211–12. The defendant was also not permitted to use force in self-defense if he was the aggressor unless he had effectively communicated his withdrawal. Id.

[40] Id.

[41] Id.

[42] Id.

[43] Id. 211–17.

[44] Id. at 218. 

[45] See generally Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031.2(2) (2018); See Kelley v. State, 618 S.W.3d 722, 734 (Mo. App. 2022) (“Self-defense ‘requires a real, specific, actual and immediate threat of bodily violence to which the defendant’s actions are an appropriate and proportional response.’”).

[46] See J.P. Neyland, A Man’s Car Is His Castle: The Expansion of Texas’ “Castle Doctrine” Eliminating the Duty to Retreat Outside His Home, 60 Baylor L. Rev. 719, 722 (2008).

[47] Fla. Stat. § 776.013(2)(a) (2017). Legislation in Missouri to take a similar approach was introduced in early 2022. Paulina Villegas, Missouri Lawmaker Pushes Gun Bill That Would ‘Make Murder Legal,’ Prosecutors Say (Feb. 2, 2022), https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/02/02/missouri-self-defense-laws/.

[48] Fla. Stat. § 776.013(2)(a); See Lydia Zbrzeznj, Florida’s Controversial Gun Policy: Liberally Permitting Citizens to Arm Themselves and Broadly Recognizing the Right to Act in Self-Defense, 13 Fla. Coastal L. Rev. 231, 254–55 (2012); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031 (2016); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031.2(2).

[49] Fla. Stat. § 776.013(2)(a); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031(2)(2).

[50] Fla. Stat. § 776.013(2)(a); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031(2)(2).

[51] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031(2)(2).

[52] Id.; See generally Sarah A. Pohlman, Shooting From The Hip: Missouri’s New Approach To Defense Of Habitation, 56 St. Louis U. L. J. 857 (2012).

[53] Pohlman, supra note 52, at 860.

[54] State v. Taylor, 44 S.W. 785, 789 (Mo. 1898).

[55] Id.

[56] Pohlman, supra note 52, at 860–861.

[57] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031 (1977); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.036 (1977); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.041 (1977); 1977 Mo. Laws at 681.

[58] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031(2); Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.036(2); Mo. Laws at 681; Pohlman, supra note 52, at 873. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.036 (1993).

[59] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031 (2007).

[60] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031.2.

[61] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031.2(1).

[62] Id.; see Pohlman, supra note 52, at 875.

[63] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031.3. A 2010 amendment to this statute added private property owned or leased by the defendant to the list of places where one does not have a duty to retreat and where deadly force is permissible against an unlawful threat of force and entry. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.021.3 (2010).

[64] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.021.2(3); id. at § 563.031.3.

[65] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031 (2007).

[66] Id. at § 563.031.1.

[67] Id. at § 563.031.3.

[68] Id.

[69] Id.

[70] Id.

[71] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.011.11; See State v. Straughter, 643 S.W. 3d 317, 328 n. 3 (Mo. 2022) (en banc) (Ransom, J., dissenting).

[72] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.011.11.

[73] See Straughter, 643 S.W.3d at 328.

[74] Id. at 327.  The court reviewed the trial court’s decision whether to give a requested jury instruction de novo and viewed the evidence in the light most favorable to the party submitting the instruction. Id.  It stated a Defendant is entitled to a self-defense instruction when substantial evidence, meaning the evidence puts the matter in issue, and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom support the theory propounded in the requested instruction. Id. Further, when the evidence either establishes the Defendant’s theory or supports differing conclusions, the court must find that the Defendant is entitled to the instruction.  Id.  Finally, the Majority stated it will vacate a criminal conviction if there is error in failing to submit a self-defense instruction which prejudices the Defendant. Id.

[75] Id. at 321; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031.1.

[76] Straughter, 643 S.W.3d at 321; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.031.2(1).

[77] Straughter, 643 S.W.3d at 321–22.

[78] Id. at 322.

[79] Id. at 322–33.

[80] Id. at 323.

[81] Id.

[82] Id.

[83] Id.

[84] Id. at 325; See State v. Whitaker, 636 S.W.3d 569, 575 (Mo. 2022) (en banc).

[85] Straughter, 643 S.W.3d at 325.

[86] Id.

[87] Id. at 326 (emphasis added).

[88] Id. at 327.

[89] Id. (Ransom, J., dissenting).

[90] Id. at 328 (Ransom, J., dissenting) (emphasis included).

[91] Id. at 329 (Ransom, J., dissenting).

[92] Id. (Ransom, J., dissenting).

[93] Id. (Ransom, J., dissenting).

[94] Id. (Ransom, J., dissenting).

[95] See generally Part III.

[96] See generally Part III.

[97] See generally Part III.

[98] Eric Good, N.R.A.’s Influence Seen in Expansion of Self-Defense Laws, N.Y. Times (Apr. 12, 2012), https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/13/us/nra-campaign-leads-to-expanded-self-defense-laws.html; Susan Ferriss, NRA pushed ‘stand your ground’ laws across the nation, The Center for Public Integrity (Mar. 26, 2012), https://publicintegrity.org/education/nra-pushed-stand-your-ground-laws-across-the-nation/.

[99] Good, supra note 98.

[100] Good, supra note 98.

[101] Association of Prosecuting Attorneys Statement on Legislative Expansion of the Castle Doctrine, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (Mar. 26, 2012), https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/association-of-prosecuting-attorneys-statement-on-legislative-expansion-of-the-castle-doctrine-144252615.html; Kami Chavis, The Dangerous Expansion of Stand-Your-Ground-Laws and its Racial Implications, Duke Center for Firearms Law (Jan. 18, 2022), https://firearmslaw.duke.edu/2022/01/the-dangerous-expansion-of-stand-your-ground-laws-and-its-racial-implications/.

[102] State v. Young, 597 S.W.3d 214, 227 (Mo. App. 2019).

[103] Mo. Rev. Stat. § 563.011.

[104] Id.

[105] Tex. Penal Code § 30.01(3); Tex. Penal Code § 9.01(5).

[106] Tenn. Code § 39-11-611(a)(8).

[107] Fla. Stat. § 776.013.5(c). See also Ariz. Code § 13-418;18 Penn. Code 5 § 501.