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Stand Your Ground Laws

Stand Your Ground Laws

submitted by, Samantha Callander (consumer safety writer).

Being a victim of a violent crime is not something anyone wants to experience. However, there is often a lot of confusion over what rights a person has to defend themselves in a situation where they may be harmed. Knowing your rights and responsibilities can help you determine the right course of action in a situation and help keep you and your loved ones safe. 

For instance, understanding your state’s stand your ground laws, what they are, and how they work to protect citizens can help save you from dangerous situations. Here we will explain stand your ground laws and what everyday people need to know about them.

What is a Stand Your Ground Law? 

For decades, state and local governments have argued and passed legislation regarding a person’s right to defend themselves from crime. In many instances, the law states that a person cannot defend themselves from an attacker, that they should flee or try to avoid conflict. While this has some merit depending on the situation, it also sometimes leaves citizens in harm’s way. 

To combat this issue, many states have passed what are known as Stand Your Ground Laws. Stand Your Ground Laws are intended to give a citizen the ability to defend themselves from potential criminal action, such as their home being burglarized, being assaulted, particularly with a deadly weapon, and other types of personal crime.

How Do They Work? 

Stand your ground laws are different by state and some states do not have them at all. However, one common thing that most of the laws that exist do have in common is that in the event that a person is threatened with force, they are allowed to respond with equal force. 

Some states allow a person to only act in self defense if the crime is being committed inside their home. For example, if someone breaks into your home and attempts to rob you, you have the right to defend yourself and your property using only as much force as is necessary to deter the criminal. If the criminal attacks you with a weapon, you may respond with equal force. 

In other cases, a person may defend themselves beyond the limits of their own home and has a right to respond with enough force to stop the situation. An example of this would be, a person is standing outside in an open area and someone attempts to attack them with a knife. In this case, the stand your ground law would typically allow them to respond by shooting the individual, even with the intent to kill due to the imminent threat posed by the individual with the knife. 

For many, stand your ground laws are seen as the right to defend oneself in the event of a crime and have been helpful in letting people protect their family and property from harm or loss due to criminal activity. 

Some states are still arguing over the premise of stand your ground laws even though the absence of such a law conflicts with a person’s rights, including the right to bear arms, the right to live safely and peacefully, and the right to protect their own property.

How Do I Know If My State Has a Stand Your Ground Law? 

Before you find yourself the victim of a crime, it is a good idea to find out what your state’s stand your ground law entails, if the law exists and what you are allowed to do to defend yourself. Here is a map (be sure to scroll down) of all states that currently have Stand Your Ground laws. If you’re still unsure of your rights, contacting a criminal defense attorney in your area can help you understand your rights in a situation where you may be a victim of a crime. 

Personal safety is one of the most important things we have to protect as citizens, which is why knowing your rights is so important.

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