Excellent blog discussion by self-defense lawyer Andrew Branca on a case in NC, where curtilage came into play on a 'castle doctrine' shooting. (Note: curtilage is outside the 4 walls of your castle but immediately around your house that is used as an extension of the house--porch?, patio?, lawn? driveway?).
Some states extend the castle doctrine defense to curtilage while others restrict it to within the 4 walls of the castle(MA, etc.).
Branca's general advice that is easy to remember: Rely on enhanced self-defense protections within your castle walls, and outside your walls, then fall back to normal defense of person law protections available anywhere. The reason is that curtilage is an iffy proposition (challenged by the other side in court) for castle doctrine protections.As is true in many (but not all) states, North Carolina has several provisions favorable to a defender who uses defensive force in the context of highly-defensible property, such as one’s home.
Perhaps the most common special provision for use-of-force in the context of one’s “home” or “castle”, a provision shared by all 50 states, relieves the defender of an otherwise existing legal duty to retreat before defending oneself against an intruder in that “castle”—this is the proper definition of the term “Castle Doctrine.”
Another common special provision of this type, one less widely available than the Castle Doctrine but available in North Carolina and many other states, grants a legal presumption that the defender possessed a reasonable fear of imminent deadly force harm from an intruder who unlawfully and forcibly enters that property. Such a legal presumption in effect grants the defender almost all of the elements required to justify his use of deadly defensive force (the only remaining element is that of innocence, that the defender was not the aggressor in the fight).
For any of these special provisions, however, the question can arise whether the use-of-force did or did not occur in the context of highly-defensible property. In other words, was the defender “in his castle” at the time he used the defensive force, or was he “outside his castle?”
The answer to that question determines whether the defender can claim the benefit of those special provisions for the use of force in the context of highly-defensible property.