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Stand Your Ground Legal Definition

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Stand Your Ground Definition

"Stand your ground" is a term for a type of self-defense in which an individual is legally allowed to defend his life against a threat or perceived threat against his life. Stand your ground laws are also known as no duty to retreat laws.

In stand your ground states, an individual is not required to retreat in the face of danger. The individual is legally permitted to stay and stand his ground. The individual is also permitted to use any level of force he reasonably believes to be necessary in the face of an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death at the hands of another. This includes deadly force.

When Am I Permitted to Stand My Ground?

Only twenty-two states have stand your ground laws. The vast majority of states follow the castle doctrine, which is a no duty to retreat law that permits individuals to protect their own homes by using force, including lethal force, when threatened with immediate serious bodily harm or death. Stand your ground takes this a step further, however, by legalizing the use of deadly force in self-defense outside of the home.

Stand your ground only requires that the individual be in a place he is lawfully allowed to be. Thus stand your ground does not permit you to use lethal self-defense when you are trespassing on someone else’s property. If you have no right to be there or if you are in the act of committing a crime, standing your ground will not be permitted, and you may be criminally liable for assault or homicide.

Which States Have Stand Your Ground Laws?

States with stand your ground laws include:

  • Washington
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Arizona
  • Alaska
  • Kansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky
  • West Virginia
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Hampshire

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have been accused of assaulting someone but you were acting in self-defense, you need a criminal defense lawyer to investigate your case, negotiate diversion or plea offers with the prosecutor, argue motions before the judge, and represent you at trial. A skilled criminal defense lawyer may be able to show to the jury that your actions qualified as self-defense under the stand your ground law in your state.

Photo of page author Jessica Long

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 04-09-2018 07:39 PM PDT

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