CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, December 28, 2012

Nemerov on Castle Doctrine Laws and Violent Crime

Howard Ross Nemerov (Texas A&M University) has posted Do Castle Doctrine Laws Impact Violent Crime? on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Cheng Cheng and Mark Hoekstra, both of the Texas A&M University Economics Department, recently published a paper entitled “Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crime or Escalate Violence? Evidence from Castle Doctrine.” They concluded that Castle Doctrine enhancements to self-defense law had no deterrent effect on burglary, robbery and aggravated assault, and increased murder. However, there are a number of errors, assumptions, and miscalculations in their research that justify revisiting the question of whether or not Castle Doctrine laws have any impact on crime.

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I suspect deterrence would have a direct connection with the burglar's evaluation of whether or not the residents of the target property are home or not. Most burglars aim to burgle while the occupants are away from the home. Although, there may be some burglars who aim to burgle homes where the occupants are sleeping. But these late night burglaries would have to be evaluated differently. Then the task would be to consider how many burglars actually factor in that they may encounter and armed occupant. All that aside, as deterrence per se does not explain whether it is just or unjust to allow one to use excessive or unnecessary self-defence merely because one is in one's own home. I have argued that even in the home (castle) context there has to be limits in a just and humane society that respects the value of human life over that of property. See Baker, Textbook of Criminal Law, Chapter 21.

Posted by: Dennis J. Baker | Dec 29, 2012 3:56:17 AM

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