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Stand Your Ground

Duty to Retreat

Other Self-Defense Laws

Castle Doctrine

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Castle Doctrine States 2021

A castle doctrine is a self-defense law that states that a person’s home (sometimes also a place of work or vehicle) is a place that grants one protections and immunities from prosecution in certain circumstances to use force or deadly force to defend oneself against an intruder. There is no duty to retreat from the situation in one’s home (or workplace or vehicle if applicable) before using force, but there may be a duty to retreat in a public place.

The United States has two different self-defense laws. The “Stand Your Ground” Law states that there is no duty to retreat from the situation before using deadly force and is not limited to one’s home, place of work, or vehicle.

The “Duty to Retreat” Law states that one cannot harm another in self-defense when it is possible to retreat from a threatening situation to a place of safety. In all duty to retreat states, the duty to retreat does not apply when the defender is in their own home. In Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Nebraska, and North Dakota, the duty to retreat does not apply when the defender is in their workplace.

States may have both a Castle Doctrine and a Stand Your Ground variation, such as Iowa.

Twenty-three states have a castle doctrine. Castle doctrines can vary slightly from state-to-state, with some states narrowing their right to use deadly force against an intruder. For example, in some states, you must prove that an intruder was attempting to commit a felony. In other states, it is limited to only when a person is in his or her vehicle.

North Carolina has a broad version of the castle doctrine. It states that a person who “unlawfully and forcibly” enters one’s home, workplace, or car is presumed to intend violence and harm, and therefore it is easy to establish self-defense.

Illinois’s version of the castle doctrine has more restrictions. The castle doctrine for Illinois does not include one’s workplace or vehicle. Additionally, one can only use deadly force if an intruder is committing a felony or enters the home in a “violent, riotous or tumultuous manner.”

The following 23 states have a castle doctrine:

The following 36 states have passed a “Stand Your Ground” law:

*Eight states have case law/precedent or jury instructions

Castle Doctrine States 2021

State Self Defense Law
AlabamaStand Your Ground
AlaskaStand Your Ground
ArizonaStand Your Ground
ArkansasDuty to Retreat
CaliforniaCastle Doctrine
ColoradoCastle Doctrine
ConnecticutDuty to Retreat
DelawareDuty to Retreat
FloridaStand Your Ground
GeorgiaStand Your Ground
HawaiiDuty to Retreat
IdahoStand Your Ground
IllinoisCastle Doctrine
IndianaStand Your Ground
IowaStand Your Ground
KansasStand Your Ground
KentuckyStand Your Ground
LouisianaStand Your Ground
MaineDuty to Retreat
MarylandDuty to Retreat
MassachusettsDuty to Retreat
MichiganStand Your Ground
MinnesotaDuty to Retreat
MississippiStand Your Ground
MissouriStand Your Ground
MontanaStand Your Ground
NebraskaDuty to Retreat
NevadaStand Your Ground
New HampshireStand Your Ground
New JerseyDuty to Retreat
New MexicoCastle Doctrine
New YorkDuty to Retreat
North CarolinaStand Your Ground
North DakotaDuty to Retreat
OhioDuty to Retreat
OklahomaStand Your Ground
OregonCastle Doctrine
PennsylvaniaStand Your Ground
Rhode IslandDuty to Retreat
South CarolinaStand Your Ground
South DakotaStand Your Ground
TennesseeStand Your Ground
TexasStand Your Ground
UtahStand Your Ground
VermontOther Self-Defense Laws
VirginiaCastle Doctrine
WashingtonCastle Doctrine
West VirginiaStand Your Ground
WisconsinDuty to Retreat
WyomingStand Your Ground

Castle Doctrine States 2021