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Fischer: Intruder alert — Suspicious encounter prompts urge to defend ‘castle’

By Staff | Mar 29, 2024

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Jen Fischer

We have often heard it said, “My home is my castle.” For some, it is a one-bedroom, one-bath, off-grid cabin with no indoor plumbing. For others, it is an opulent and spacious 10-bedroom mansion with sweeping staircases and towering columns. Wherever one decides to hang a hat and call home, many states allow you the right to defend and protect it.

Often referred to as the Castle Doctrine, or the defense of habitation law, a person who legally occupies a “home” has protections and immunities permitting one, in specific circumstances, to use force to defend against an intruder. According to Utah Code 76-2-405, “a person is justified in using force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent or terminate the other’s unlawful entry into or attack upon his habitation; however, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury.” The code goes on to specify when and in what context this is permitted.

Personally, I am not sure I would go to the mat for any item of value in my home. If someone takes the time to break in, make it through my two killer dogs (a cocker spaniel and a very friendly husky) and steal something (no doubt easily replaceable), then they probably need it much more than I ever will. However, if you are coming for any member of my family, including myself or my dogs, make no mistake about it, I will put the Castle Doctrine to good use.

I know this for a fact because I had an incident last week that tested my uncompromising resolve on the matter. I had a rare night of solitude in my “castle” Saturday evening. My husband was at the Jazz game with my nephew, the basement tenants were visiting relatives, and none of the adult children had come over to “hang out” (translation: gather free food and use our laundry facilities). I had flipped on the fireplace and grabbed my book when I heard the doorbell ring. Since I am far too short to look out the peephole door, I assumed it was either UPS or Amazon delivering a package that needed a signature, since those are the only people who ring the doorbell at our house. Thus, I opened the door.

“Hi, hon,” greeted a larger middle-aged man in jeans and a T-shirt. “I would have called but didn’t have your number. I’m here to fix the hot tub.”

My dog was barking heartily in the background, and I responded loudly: “We did have a problem with the heating element, but I thought you guys fixed it about six weeks ago. I think the jets are functioning perfectly, though, so you can traipse around the back through the gate if you want and take a look. Just don’t let our husky out.”

I closed the door and sat back down. Then I started thinking. This was strange. It is 7:30 on a Saturday evening. A repair person would have our number to call before. He called me “hon,” against every cardinal rule in the book, and I had been given no indication that we had contacted anyone about the jets having a problem. I stealthily peeked out the back window. He did have the hot tub cover off but that didn’t make me feel any better. I went into our bedroom closet and grabbed the baseball bat, then I loaded up our little revolver and put it under a blanket on my living room couch. I staged the baseball bat on top. I wasn’t afraid to use it. I had been tested by a rogue raccoon earlier in the year.

A few minutes later, he put his head through the doggy door and asked if I could come out so he could show me the problem. I was standing by the kitchen table, so I grabbed a screwdriver and headed out. I feigned that I had just got the screwdriver because my basement tenant was “going to fix something for me in a minute.” I held the screwdriver firmly and came over to the hot tub. He explained that the jets were clogged and showed me how to unclog them. I thanked him and asked what we owe him. I proceeded to go inside, close the door and write a check made out to his personal name … still very suspicious. I came out of my office and he was there, in my house, standing by my couch. I looked down at the bat and then up at him. My dog barked. He reached down to pet it and I warned him, “I wouldn’t if I were you. He is very protective and will likely bite.” Although in truth, the worse thing he has ever done is pee. I then flung open the front door, ushered him out and handed him the check, locking the door behind him.

A few minutes later, I called my husband to report the occurrence. “Oh yeah,” he said. “I forgot to tell you he was coming. Sorry.” Potential tragic incident averted. But it was good to know I was prepared and could “stand my ground.”

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.


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