What Are "Stand Your Ground" Laws?


Quick Answer

"Stand your ground" laws are state self-defense laws that stipulate that victims who believe their lives are in danger do not need to flee but can resist attackers with deadly force, reports About.com. State legislatures pass the laws to deter criminals by making them realize that victims can legally fight back, and can prevent criminal aggressors from filing lawsuits against them when they are defending themselves.

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Full Answer

State laws vary concerning where and under what circumstances victims can stand their ground, points out the National Conference of State Legislatures. In some states, people can stand their ground anywhere they are legally present, but in other states, stand-your-ground statutes only apply to personal homes or vehicles. Under self-defense laws in states without stand-your-ground laws, victims must attempt every possibility of escape before using deadly force, notes About.com.

Stand-your-ground laws only apply when victims are in imminent danger of serious bodily injury, robbery, rape, kidnapping or death, explains The Washington Post. People cannot use deadly force against attackers who are merely blocking them, shouting or moving aggressively. Even if they shoot and miss under such circumstances, police in any state may charge them with attempted murder. Additionally, although victims may claim that they stand their ground because they fear for their lives, judges and juries may conclude that their fears are unreasonable or insincere.

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