Stand-Your-Ground and No Duty to Retreat Laws

George Zimmerman

The highly controversial stand-your-ground law states that a person may use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to try to retreat or get away first.  In some stand your ground cases, a person may use deadly force in public areas without a having a duty to retreat.

Under these legal concepts, a person is justified to use deadly force in certain situations and the “stand your ground” law would be a defense to criminal charges and a civil suit.

In general, the law is designed to protect individuals who feel their life may be in danger. In some situations, some people would hesitate to use lethal force to protect themselves for fear of the lethal consequences. These laws basically say that you can use whatever force that you deem necessary at the moment if you feel that your life is in danger.

The statutes are also referred to as a “line in the sand” or “no duty to retreat”.

List of States with Stand-Your-Ground Laws

The following states have such laws:


  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi


  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

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Wisconsin and Wyoming have adopted Castle Doctrine statutes.  Iowa, Nebraska, Virginia, and Washington are considering “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Stand Your Ground Laws in the News

The controversial laws have received increased attention and scrutiny as a result of the recent shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin by self appointed Neighborhood Watch and volunteer loser George Zimmerman.

More Information

For more information, including the controversy, its affect on crime and its use in other countries see


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