As the Roman orator, Cicero once queried, “What is more sacred, what more strongly guarded by every holy feeling than a man’s own home?” It is a sentiment that survives today and one to which any homeowner can relate. Your home should be a place of safety and happiness for you and your family. But what happens when someone invades that sanctuary?

An intruder in your home is a terrifying threat to face. Immediately you may fear for your family’s safety. Has the intruder come to steal your property or to hurt your loved ones? Your first instinct might be to confront them and defend your home, but how far can you go without getting yourself into trouble with the law?

Of course, when the lives of those you love are at stake, you may not be too concerned about the consequences of your actions. Fortunately, as this article on the Castle Doctrine explains, under California law you are legally allowed to use reasonable force to defend your home from an intruder. This includes the use of lethal force if you believe you are in immediate danger of being seriously injured or killed.

Under state legislation, you have no obligation to retreat, so as long as you only use as much force as you can reasonably deem necessary, you should be protected by law. Of course, it is rarely a simple matter, so if you fear legal repercussions after defending your home, you might benefit from the advice of an attorney.

Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own home and the defense of that should not come at the cost of your freedom. However, by ensuring you are aware of the laws in your home state, you can protect yourself with knowledge of any legal consequences.