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      Virginia Senate passes 'castle doctrine' legislation

      RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The state Senate has passed legislation allowing Virginians to use deadly force against intruders without fear of being sued.

      Sen. Richard Stuart's bill passed 23-17 on Thursday and now goes to the House of Delegates, which has its own version of the legislation.

      The bill essentially takes a longstanding common law principle known as the "castle doctrine" and makes it a state statute. Stuart said that if the doctrine is clearly defined in state law, it's unlikely that any attorney would take a civil case against a person who defends himself or his family against someone who breaks into his home.

      Opponents of the bill argued that the castle doctrine already deters such lawsuits.