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Wisconsin's newest self defense law

Today, an intruder in your home has lost more of his rights to harm you. Laws and practices that place a higher duty on a victim to not hurt an uninvited criminal in your home, motor vehicle or your place of business that you own or operate fell away yesterday when Governor Walker signed Wisconsin's new Castle Doctrine law. People should have a right to be safe from criminals anywhere, but for now it is limited to these three places.

The new law Wis. Stat. 895.62 provides immunity from civil liability (with several exceptions) that arise from the use of lethal force if you reasonably believe such force was necessary to terminate an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to your self or another person providing that any of the following apply: the intruder was in the process of, or had already unlawfully entered your home, motor vehicle or place of business, you were on your own property or present in your home, motor vehicle or place of business, and you knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful forcible entry was occurring.

Your ability to retreat or not may not be considered. If lethal force is used, you are presumed to have a reasonable belief that the force used was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to your self or another person.

We all know what death is, but you may not know what constitutes great bodily harm.

There are three levels of harm which are:

  • "Bodily harm" - which means any physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.
  • "Substantial bodily harm" - which means bodily injury that causes a laceration that requires stitches, staples, or a tissue adhesive; and fracture of a bone; a broken nose; a burn; a petechia; a temporary loss of consciousness, sight or hearing; a concussion; or a loss or fracture of a tooth. You may use force to terminate a threat of bodily harm or substantial bodily harm, up to but not including, lethal force.
  • The use of lethal force is only lawful to stop a threat of "Great bodily harm" - which means bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or which causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ or other serious bodily injury.

The presumption that lethal force was justified does not apply when the actor (you) are engaged in criminal activity, the "intruder" actually was a public safety worker on official business and had identified them self to you or you knew or should have known they were a public safety worker.


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