In recent years, “Stand Your Ground” laws have become a frequent topic of conversation due to the exposure of Trayvon Martin’s tragic death in 2012. The objective of this article is to provide some clarity regarding these laws.
How Did We Get Here?
The state of Florida passed the first Stand Your Ground law in the United States in 2005, making it legal for people to “stand their ground,” as opposed to retreating, if they reasonably believe their doing so will “prevent death or great bodily harm.” Other states soon passed laws specifically affirming one’s right to defend themselves with deadly force, even when outside of their homes.
State self-defense laws may overlap, but typically fall into three categories:
- Stand Your Ground
No duty to retreat from the situation before resorting to deadly force. Not limited to your property (i.e. home, office, etc.).
- Castle Doctrine
Limited to real property, such as your home, yard, or private office. No duty to retreat (use of deadly force against intruders is legal in most situations). Some states, like Missouri and Ohio, even consider personal vehicles extensions of real property.
- Duty to Retreat
Must retreat from the situation if you feel threatened (use of deadly force is considered a last resort). May not use deadly force if you are safely inside your home.
It is important to note that Massachusetts is a Castle Doctrine state.
Contact Us Today
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in an act of violence and have doubts regarding your legal rights, dial (413) 256-6234 to schedule your initial consultation with Thomas Whitney Attorney at Law. With nearly 40 years’ experience in criminal defense matters, we are committed to helping you obtain the outcome you deserve.