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Castle Doctrine
Stand Your Ground
Duty to Retreat
Other Self-Defense Laws

Castle Doctrine States 2024

Castle Doctrine States 2024

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

Forty-five states have some form of the 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.”

Castle Doctrine States

Stand Your Ground States

Of these states, California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington have case law/precedent or jury instructions)

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Duty to Retreat States

In Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Nebraska, and North Dakota, the duty to retreat does not apply when the defender is in their workplace.

  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Wisconsin

Castle Doctrine States 2024

- Displayed death rates are given per 100,000 residents
- Displayed gun registration rates are given per 1,000 residents
- Gun laws may change quickly. As such, listed categories should not be considered legally authoritative.

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Self Defense Laws
Gun Ownership Rate
Gun Death Rate (per 100k)
Registered Gun Rate (per 1k)
AlabamaStand Your Ground52.8%23.6038.70
AlaskaCastle Doctrine57.2%23.5038.50
ArizonaCastle Doctrine36.4%16.7035.60
ArkansasCastle Doctrine51.8%22.6044.30
CaliforniaStand Your Ground16.3%8.5010.40
ColoradoStand Your Ground37.9%15.4025.70
ConnecticutDuty to Retreat18.8%620.80
DelawareDuty to Retreat38.7%14.406.10
FloridaStand Your Ground28.8%13.7023.80
GeorgiaStand Your Ground37.7%17.7028.20
HawaiiDuty to Retreat9.1%3.406.40
IdahoStand Your Ground57.8%17.6040.20
IllinoisStand Your Ground22.6%14.1011.40
IndianaCastle Doctrine42.4%17.3023.10
IowaCastle Doctrine38.5%11.2017
KansasStand Your Ground42.3%16.9023.80
KentuckyStand Your Ground52.5%20.1024.10
LouisianaStand Your Ground52.3%26.3032.90
MaineDuty to Retreat47.7%10.4015.60
MarylandDuty to Retreat16.7%13.5022.10
MassachusettsDuty to Retreat9.9%3.706.50
MichiganCastle Doctrine38.9%14.6010.90
MinnesotaDuty to Retreat39.1%8.9022.70
MississippiCastle Doctrine54.1%28.6027.40
MissouriCastle Doctrine52.8%23.9018.40
MontanaCastle Doctrine65.7%20.9033.20
NebraskaDuty to Retreat39.2%10.1022
NevadaCastle Doctrine32.9%1737.90
New HampshireCastle Doctrine46.3%8.9052.10
New JerseyDuty to Retreat8.9%51.10
New MexicoStand Your Ground35.9%22.7058.10
New YorkDuty to Retreat14.5%5.304.60
North CarolinaCastle Doctrine37.1%1621.10
North DakotaCastle Doctrine53.3%13.8040
OhioCastle Doctrine41.9%15.2017.70
OklahomaStand Your Ground54.9%20.7025.90
OregonStand Your Ground41.4%1323
PennsylvaniaStand Your Ground40.2%13.6026.90
Rhode IslandDuty to Retreat13.9%5.104.50
South CarolinaStand Your Ground45.5%2223
South DakotaCastle Doctrine55.6%13.6072.20
TennesseeCastle Doctrine46.9%21.3021.70
TexasCastle Doctrine35.5%14.2034.10
UtahCastle Doctrine39.7%13.603.40
VermontStand Your Ground50.3%11.6014.60
VirginiaStand Your Ground35.3%13.4049
WashingtonStand Your Ground32.1%10.901.20
West VirginiaCastle Doctrine60.6%18.1092.80
WisconsinDuty to Retreat47.1%12.2016.30
WyomingCastle Doctrine60.7%25.90245.80
showing: 50 rows

Castle Doctrine States 2024