Unbeknownst to many, California has some of the strongest “Stand Your Ground” case law in the country.
Despite there being no outright legislation allowing it, California judges and juries have proven time and again that nothing tops our right to stay and defend when an evildoer threatens life and property.
It's a fundamental principle of the law that dates back to the 17th century.
In the modern age, “stand your ground” has helped people like Rhainell Madrona, a 60-year-old U.S. citizen from the Philippines whose story was recently covered in the feature article “Standing His Ground: California Self-Defense Case Draws National Attention” in Concealed Carry Magazine.
His trial was handled by Joseph Tully and is now seen as a landmark case in California's “Stand Your Ground” legal precedent.
In 2012, Rhainell was at his home in Antioch, CA when he heard activity in his driveway. Realizing that his garage door was partially open to let his cats out and the lock on the door leading into his house was still broken from a previous burglary, Rhainell knew that whoever was outside could easily break in and harm him or his disabled wife.
He got his legal handgun, got down on his hands and knees and quietly crawled under his garage door to see three figures on his property, including one who then quickly grabbed a garbage bin, lifted it above his head, and charged directly at him.
Rhainell shot once, grazing one of the trespassers in the side.
Unfortunately, the police didn't see the situation the same way Rhainell did. They tracked down the three males who had trespassed on his property but didn't arrest them.
They turned out to be three teenage boys who had a history of being accused by Rhainell of repeated vandalism of his property, but never being ‘caught in the act' by police.
Instead, they arrested Rhainell and he was charged with felony assault and discharging a firearm with gross negligence. Rhainell's mugshot was plastered across the news, racist accusations were hurled at him and he lost his job, adding to his financial strain.
He faced years of prison time and a high-stakes legal battle.
Making a Split-Second Call
At trial, the prosecution argued that Rhainell was shooting first and thinking later, one of the reasons that “Stand Your Ground” often comes under scrutiny. Especially in the wake of the infamous George Zimmerman trial, many people believe that “Stand Your Ground” allows people to shoot with no consequences.
That's not the case.
“Stand Your Ground” is a specific form of self-defense and it can only be used in particular situations. Rhainell, like anyone else threatened by a trespasser, was faced with a split-second decision.
If he chose differently, he may have been injured, killed or robbed. His disabled wife, asleep in bed may have faced an even worse fate.
“Stand Your Ground” also takes into account that you may act more quickly if the perpetrator has threatened or harmed you in the past.
Rhainell's property had been repeatedly vandalized with little to no help from police. Just three days before the incident, his large, heavy garbage bin had been thrown into his car and broken his windshield. Although it can't be proven, it's highly probable that the boys, who all had a criminal history, had vandalized Rhainell's property before.
“Stand Your Ground” considers that he reacted more quickly based on the fear and abuse he had suffered.
Defending Your Home & Loved Ones – Standing Your Ground in California
Although almost every state has a castle doctrine that allows you to stand your ground in your home, many require that you cease any further action once the individual withdraws.
This isn't the case in California. Here, you are allowed to pursue a perpetrator if you believe they are still a threat. What's more, “Stand Your Ground” doesn't just cover yourself; if you see someone else being attacked, you are allowed and even expected to defend them.
You are also allowed to defend property, though you may not use lethal force to do so. It's clear that Rhainell legally could have done much more damage to the trespassers if he wanted, but he chose to do the minimum to successfully defend himself and his wife.
Luckily, thanks to the strong precedent of “Stand Your Ground” in California, the jury decided that Rhainell was justified in shooting and he was acquitted. Despite being a hotly contested and challenging case, Rhainell's trial proves the importance of our Second Amendment rights and our ability to protect life and home.