Clarification of MO civil suits after Castle Doctrine defense?

I would especially like to hear from one of our USCCA attorneys on the MO list. Others are welcome to add but please don’t speculate about what you want to be true over what is reality.

Scenario: Back when Castle Doctrine was “center stage” maybe a decade ago in MO it was supposedly written that IF a homeowner defended his castle and killed a “bad actor” he would not be found criminally guilty. Lets assume it was a “clean” shoot all around. At that time I understood that MO castle doctrine in this instance stated any CIVIL SUIT was forbidden, completely and summarily not allowed by statute. My understanding was that a civil suit in this scenario could ONLY happen if a determination of criminal guilt was handed down. Is this still true, and was it ever true? I read around the country and see where defendants are found NOT GUILTY during a home shoot but still the bad actor’s family destroys lives with civil suits. Staying tuned on this one, and I know others here live in the boundries of MO.


I dont know if we have any of the MO network attorneys on here, maybe @MikeBKY can offer an option.ill see if I can pull up the relevant law tonight.

I begin with the caveat that I am not able to give legal advice with respect to Missouri law.

The applicable statutes are MRS 563.031, 563.041 and 563.074. The castle doctrine is in section 031 and reads

(2) Such force is used against a person who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle lawfully occupied by such person; or
(3) Such force is used against a person who unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter private property that is owned or leased by an individual, or is occupied by an individual who has been given specific authority by the property owner to occupy the property, claiming a justification of using protective force under this section.

  1. The defendant shall have the burden of injecting the issue of justification under this section. If a defendant asserts that his or her use of force is described under subdivision (2) of subsection 2 of this section, the burden shall then be on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not reasonably believe that the use of such force was necessary to defend against what he or she reasonably believed was the use or imminent use of unlawful force.

This allows deadly force in your “castle” and does not require retreat. If charged, this is an affirmative defense, meaning, you must formally plead the defense and then the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was NOT self defense.

With respect to immunity, MRS 563.074 is relatively straight forward.

  1. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 563.016 , a person who uses force as described in sections 563.031 , 563.041 , 563.046 , 563.051 , 563.056 , and 563.061 is justified in using such force and such fact shall be an absolute defense to criminal prosecution or civil liability.
  1. The court shall award attorney’s fees, court costs, and all reasonable expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant has an absolute defense as provided in subsection 1 of this section.

The question with respect to being able to bring a civil action is somewhat answered in the statute in section 2 where the defendant will be awarded fees and costs if the court finds it was an absolute defense. This leads me to believe that it will become a question of law to be determined by the judge instead of a jury.

I hope this helps.

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So then it appears a full on legally clean shoot (nothing clean about shooting someone of course) would leave a defendant isolated from a civil suit without criminal conviction first. At one point I understood that to be concrete in MO. We had tons of liberals running around here screaming a few years ago. The contention was shooting someone inside your house should not insulate you from civil liability. I know a few state senators/representatives tried advancing something to change it, but it died on the floor I think. Just wanted to check in/re-visit my understanding.


Again, a MO attorney may give more clarity. Where it becomes an issue is “immunity” vs. “complete defense.” Defenses must be pled and then proven usually through summary judgment. Kentucky provides civil immunity.

KRS 503.085 Justification and criminal and civil immunity for use of permitted force – Exceptions.
(1) A person who uses force as permitted in KRS 503.050, 503.055, 503.070, and 503.080 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom the force was used is a peace officer, as defined in KRS 446.010, who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law, or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a peace officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.
(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1) of this section, but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.
(3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff, if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1) of this section.

Immunity is generally considered stronger than a defense. The good thing is both states provide for reimbursement of fees and expenses.

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Thanks. I actually live in one of if not the most conservative county in the MO. Our PA is all about guns and the public carrying. Its encouraged and supported by LE around me as well. You would have to make a serious “error in judgement” to be prosecuted with any enthusiasm. Of course it helps to have family wearing badges and even major case squad members, LOL!!