August 29, 2016

Self-defense has been a right since the signing of the Constitution.

Many states have “Stand Your Ground” laws which make it legal to stay in your own home and protect yourself and your loved ones. The laws stem from the “Castle Doctrine” , which basically says that a person’s home is their castle and that gives them the right to defend their home through the use of deadly force-without legal consequences.

In some states, a person can defend himself with deadly force against any threat even if such force can be avoided by the person’s retreat, known as the “Shoot First laws”. Other states will require a person to retreat as much is possible before using deadly force in self-defense, know as the “Duty to Retreat laws”.

The Stand Your Ground laws are controversial with critics arguing that the rates of homicide in state that have adopted the law has increased about 8% over states without it. Many of those shootings are committed by criminals claiming they acted in self defense. Supporters of the law dispute those numbers stating that in states that adopted Stand Your Ground laws, murder rates dropped 9% and violent crime was reduced by 11%.

Thirty-three states have adopted some form of “Stand Your Ground” into law. The exact details, however, can vary from state to state. Since 2005, twenty-seven states have adopted the “Shoot first laws”.

Alabama : Yes

Alaska: Yes

Arizona: Yes

Arkansas: Limited

California: Ugly

Florida: Limited

Georgia: Yes

Indiana: Yes

Iowa: Yes

Kansas: Yes

Kentucky: Yes, but

Louisiana: Yes

Michigan: Yes

Mississippi: Yes

Montana: Yes

New Hampshire: Definitely ugly

North Carolina: Yes

North Dakota: Limited

Oklahoma: Yes

Pennsylvania: Limited

South Carolina: Yes

South Dakota: Yes

Tennessee: Yes

Texas: Yes

Utah: Yes

Virginia: Yes

Washington: Yes

West Virginia: Yes

Wisconsin: Yes

Wyoming: Yes

In Arkansas

The meaning of ‘Stand Your Ground,’ runs aground if you’re nowhere near your property.

16-120-106. Use of deadly physical force.

(A) A person is immune from civil action for the use of deadly physical force against another person who is an initial aggressor if the use of the deadly physical force was in accordance with: 5-2-607.

(B) However, a person is not required to retreat if the person is:

(i) In the person’s dwelling or on the curtilage surrounding the person’s dwelling and was not the original aggressor; or

(ii) A law enforcement officer or a person assisting at the direction of a law enforcement officer…

In California

California is considered a difficult state to determine just what is a justifiable homocide. Nestled within her penal codes is a specific passage highlighting when it’s justified to kill someone. In California, they do not have specific “Stand Your Ground” or “No Duty To Retreat” wording in current penal code.

  1. 197. : Homicide is also justifiable, especially if committed by any person in

    any of the following cases:

When committed in the lawful defense of such person, or of a

wife or husband, parent, child, master, mistress, or servant of such person, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony or to do some great bodily injury, and imminent danger of such design being accomplished; but such person, or the person in whose behalf the defense was made, if he was the assailant or engaged in mutual combat, must really and in good faith have endeavored to decline any further struggle before the homicide was committed;

When necessarily committed in attempting, by lawful ways and means, to apprehend any person for any felony committed, or in lawfully suppressing any riot, in lawfully keeping and preserving the peace.

In Florida

Florida’s legal justification using any deadly force is not well written,. Everyone can debate the moral stance whatever your want, but legally, you are only given “stand your ground” authorization, using deadly force especially if you are in your dwelling, your vehicle, or your property.

776.013: Home protection; use or threatened use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm:

A person who is attacked in his or her dwelling, residence, or vehicle duty to retreat are not allowed, has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use force, including deadly force, if he or she uses or threatens to use force in accordance with s. 776.012(1) or (2) or s. 776.031(1) or (2).

In Kentucky

Kentucky also has an odd wording to their “no duty to retreat” laws. You have no duty to retreat, on the other hand deadly force is authorized only when the threat is presented to you. If you see someone getting threat, deadly force are not immediately allowed.

503.050: The Use of physical force in self-defense, Admissibility of evidence of prior acts of domestic violence and abuse.

Using of deadly physical force by a defendant upon another person is justifiable under subsection only when the defendant believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death, serious physical injury, kidnapping, sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat, felony involving the use of force, or under those circumstances permitted pursuant to KRS 503.055.

A person does not have a duty to retreat prior to the use of deadly physical force.

In New Hampshire

New Hampshire gives a plethora of defenses, using force but does not explicitly say there is no duty to retreat especially if outside the premises of one’s home or work. The New Hampshire residents are not absolved of the possibility of criminal charges unlike other states, but they are removed from the civil related to self-defense.

Section 627:1-a

627:1-a Civil Immunity. : “A person who uses force in self-protection or in the protection of other persons pursuant to RSA 627:4, in the protection of premises and property pursuant to RSA 627:7 and 627:8, in law enforcement pursuant to RSA 627:5, or in the care or welfare of a minor pursuant to RSA 627:6, is justified in using such force and shall be immune from civil liability for personal injuries sustained by a perpetrator which were caused by the acts or omissions of the person as a result of the use of force. In a civil action initiated by or on behalf of a perpetrator against the person, the court shall award the person reasonable attorney’s fees, and costs, including but not limited to, expert witness fees, court costs, and compensation for loss of income.”

Understanding the justification for deadly force as a private citizen is 627:5 Physical Force in Law Enforcement.

A private person acting on his own is justified in using non-deadly force upon another when, to the extent that he reasonably believes it is needed to arrest or prevent the escape from custody of such other whom he reasonably believes to have committed the crime, who in fact has committed that felony, but he is justified in using deadly force for such purpose only when he reasonably believes it necessary to protect himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the right to use of deadly force.

In North Dakota

North Dakota’s  castle doctrine has some constraints on the application of deadly force regarding with protecting yourself, others outside the confines of your home or vehicle. They are clearly stated below:

12.1-05-07.: Limits on the use of force, Excessive and Deadly force

Deadly force is justified in the following:

When used in lawful self-defense, or in lawful defense of others, if such force is necessary to protect the actor or anyone else against death,t he commission of a felony including violence or serious bodily injury. The use of deadly force is not justified if it can be avoided, with safety to the people, by retreat or other conduct involving minimal interference with the freedom of the individual menaced. An individual seeking to protect another individual must, before using deadly force, try to make the other person to retreat, or otherwise comply with the requirements of this provision, if safety can be obtained thereby. In case the duty to retreat or avoid force does not apply under the following circumstances:

An individual is not required to retreat within or from that individual’s dwelling or place of work, or even from an occupied motor home or travel trailer as defined in section 39-01-01, except if the individual was the original aggressor or is assailed by another individual who the individual knows also dwells, works there or who is lawfully in the motorhome or travel trailer.

In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania surely has explicit protections granted to everyone, using deadly force to protect themselves from someone who is trying to commit a forcible felony against them. The laws in Pennsylvania get extremely specific in letting the concealed carrier know that in protection of himself, family and property, he is covered under the law of the state. On the other hand, when attempting to intercept another person in the process of committing a forcible or violent felony, the concealed carrier will need to understand the the statement below:

505.: Use of force in self-defense

A person who is not engaged in a criminal activity, not in illegal possession of a firearm and of course, who is attacked in any place where the person would have a duty to retreat under paragraph (2)(ii) has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and use force, including deadly force, if:

(i) A person has a right to be in the place where he was attacked;

(ii) A person who believes it is immediately necessary to do so to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse by force or threat; and

(iii) A person against whom the force is used displays or otherwise uses:

(A) A gun or any tools like a firearm as defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 9712 (relating to sentences for offenses committed with firearms); or

(B) any other weapon readily or apparently capable of lethal use.

In short, if you wind up in a self-defense situation, you surely need to legally establish that your attacker was in possession of a weapon and capable of lethal use, as well as the threat was at you. The farther you drift from all of that, the more expensive the attorney fees will get.