States with Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine Laws

Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine Laws

Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine Laws

Image courtesy stock.xchng user Yarik Mishin

With all of the talk about “Stand Your Ground” laws and self-defense in the “media” lately, I thought that it would be a good idea to take a look at which U.S. states have those laws in place and the definition of what the law is, without all of the media hype.

First a general definition of the “Stand Your Ground Law” different states my differ slightly in their interpretation of the law:

Stand-your-ground laws allow someone to use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first. Generally, these laws require the person to (1) have a legal right to be at the location and (2) not be engaged in an unlawful activity.

State with Stand Your Ground Laws in Place

Castle Doctrine Definition – again my differ slightly depending on each state (source

The Castle Doctrine is a common law doctrine that designates a person’s abode (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as a car or place of work) as a place in which the person has certain protections and immunities and allows such a person in certain circumstances, to attack an intruder instead of retreating. Typically, deadly force is considered justified homicide only in cases when the actor reasonably feared imminent peril of death or serious bodily harm to oneself or another. The doctrine is not a defined law that can be invoked, but is a set of principles which is incorporated in some form in the law of most states. Forty-six states, including Connecticut, have incorporated the Castle Doctrine into law.

States with Castle Doctrine laws in place

What do you think – are Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine law a good idea?

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Kin_of_Sgt. Alvin C. York says:

    The chief Law Enforcement Officer of the country, Mr. Holder, announced yesterday the massive engine of the Federal government will be looking into all this. Using your tax dollars and thousands of Federal drones and worker bees against you and the Constitution.

    TRANSLATED: The last nail in the coffin of freedom is trying to be hammered down by this lawless government. When a tyrannical federal government starts to question and to examine (and ultimately deny and prohibit) your natural law right and God given right of self-defense, folks, IT’S OVER.

    The masses of mindless zombies now existing in America and their lap dogs in the media will trumpet their “version” of safety: register and confiscate all firearms. Retreat, retreat, offer no resistance to murder, mayhem, rape, and pillage.

    To think, to reason, to own common sense is now prohibited and soon will be illegal. George Orwell had it right.

    We are seeing the overt and obvious destruction of our freedoms before our very eyes.

    To quote a brave and famous American on the eve of battle between good and evil on the beaches of Normandy: “….you’ll know what to do!”


    Your own state will rise or fall; it’s up to you now.

    • It’s over when We the People stop believing we have a God-given right to self-defense and when We the People believe we have to blindly follow elected and appointed officials. Compared to the populations of a lot of other nations, we Americans are a nation of unruly, opinioned folks who have an inborn dislike of being told what to do. That makes us really different from the British, Germans or Japanese. We just aren’t all that concerned about being orderly and socially conforming and we like to question authority figures, especially those who think we should be disarmed and that our personal communications should not be private.

      Eric Holder will be replaced by the next President. Let’s hope that We the People have the commonsense next time to elect a President who respects gun rights and privacy rights and who pulls back the encroachments of the NSA before Congress slashes funds for NSA and a lot of the other black box intelligence programs (the other way to de-fang NSA).

      • Linda, I hear what you are saying. Unfortunately this country isn’t what you think it is. It was at one time. No more. Like Kin said, “The masses of mindless zombies now existing in America and their lap dogs in the media will trumpet their “version” of safety: register and confiscate all firearms. Retreat, retreat, offer no resistance to murder, mayhem, rape, and pillage.”
        These zombies do not hold to or even aspire to the beliefs of our previous generations. I wish it was as you say, but I’m afraid it’s not.

      • It could be that Eric Holder could be the next president – it feels like he’s already on the campaign trail already.

  2. axelsteve says:

    I think that if TDL or Eric Holdem try to mess with these laws then a serious backlash regarding states rights will ensue.

    • Encourager says:

      I agree. Many states are getting pretty fed up with the Feds trying to set policy in their state and/or change laws in said state.

    • Governor Brewer and Sheriff Joe in our state will most likely fight any attempts to change it .

  3. Doris Jones says:

    If a person sincerely believes they are in danger and is required by necessity to defend themselves why in the world stop and take the time to “think about the law”?? That will get you killed. I would act first and deal with “the law” later. And if you live in some crazy state where the “law” says you cannot defend yourself–either get out there and get that law changed or go where people are sane enough to have reasonable laws. Do this before you have to fight for your life.
    I do not see any need to have “laws” that “allow you to protect yourself”. Doesn’t our bill of rights and freedoms already protect that?

    • Doris Jones,
      The short version of your thoughts goes like this, “I would rather be tried by 12, than carried by 6”. Straight and to the point.

    • Don Duncan says:

      No, “our B. of R. and freedoms” do not protect us. They used to, before the majority decided to nullify the republic. Democracy (mob rule) is now in force, e.g., what you are not given permission to do, is outlawed. These are dark days.

      I predict small rebellions, quickly, violently put down by troops acting without mercy or decency. The smallest resistance will be ruthlessly crushed with concentration camps and mass arrests.

      Non-violent resistance will be much harder to stop by force. There are a thousand ways to resist (increase freedom) without violent confrontation. Governments are force. They thrive of it. They are prepared for it. You will lose if you play their game. But simply recognizing they have no moral authority, and valuing that over legal authority (which is always bogus anyway), you may free yourself and be an encouraging model for the paralyzed. We are all afraid but we don’t have to let that stop us. Start now. Take action, no matter how small. It will stimulate your resolve. Keep thinking of ways to free yourself in this unfree world. Just do what you can do, and knowing that will be your victory.

  4. riverrider says:

    both can be two edged swords and for that reason va. did not pass those bills proposed last session. our common law based constitution garrantees both without limiting them. on the other hand some judges have chosen to make law all their own by way of this “retreat” idea. it got really bad. at one point in my short leo career a judge asked me why i didn’t get in my car and back up out of range of the guy with the mac10 shooting at me. i offered to do a live fire demo with him as the leo and me as the perp, but he declined….anyway it came to a head a couple years ago when a judge held over for trial a homeowner that shot a naked intruder armed with a knife. the judge said he should have run, leaving his family trapped in the house w/ the perp. the citizens were duly outraged. still, i’d like to see it in writing so these type judges can’t pull a zimmerman on us.

    • Kin_of_Sgt. Alvin C. York says:

      Good points, riverrider.

      I spent 40 years working in an environment which used to be called the “legal system.” It is a “system” alright. Its sole purpose today is to separate you from your freedoms and property.

      Designed today and implemented by crooks, liars and thieves and it goes all the way up to SCOTUS! Judges today, for the most part,( there are exceptions, of course), are BOUGHT AND PAID FOR.

      This is easy to do: from “campaign contributions,” to outright bagmen slipping in $100 bills (a very outdated way!), setting up foreign bank accounts already funded by litigants, becoming a “consultant” outside the system (very lucrative), giving of favors: country club memberships, lush vacations, fancy leased cars, the list is endless.

      We have the best legal system money can buy. As I tell people going to court: “No money, no funny.” You can’t compete in the legal system if you’re up against a multi-billion dollar outfit, who already has the judge in its pocket.

      One thing is staring our crooked legal system in the face: money. Yep–funding. Without it stealing your taxes or property, it will end. This is the brutal fact of life which politicians and the legal community doesn’t comprehend. For them it’s like a constant line of sheep to be sheared. This will change very soon.

      That’s where the impending financial collapse comes. However it takes its shape, there will be no money left for these legal vultures. As a result, “law” as we know it will end. That’s what is so scary. No police, no sheriff, no deputies, no courts for the most part. Think, just think for a bit, the mind of a murderous criminal who realizes that there is no consequences to his/her actions! S-C-A-R-Y!


    • Those judges are straight up candy asses. They don’t understand what it means to be a man and protect your family. If they want to be a wuss and run away then they shouldn’t be in a position to judge over those of us who want to protect ourselves. They see us as the bad guys cause we didn’t tuck tail and run like some scared, beat down dog.

  5. I used to live Pennsylvania and it was my understanding, from having payed attention to several big home owner shot intruder cases as well as reading up, that Pennsylvania does have STRONG castle doctrine place.

    And even before that every single case I saw on TV or read in the paper Pennsylvania defended the homeowner’s right to use deadly force in his home.

    That is hardly conclusive and only covers eastern PA mostly but I never once saw a case in the 40 years I lived there where even say Philadelphia strung up a home owner for shooting an intruder IN HIS HOME.

    I did see several where the homeowner left his home, and shot somebody in flight where they were prosecuted.

    Pennsylvania is hugely rural, the joke is Philly on one end Pittsburgh on the other and redneck in Alabama in between.

    I’ve been to Alabama and will take that description as high praise. Both my parents were raised in rural Pennsylvania.

    But at least today PA has strong castle doctrine.

    • Kin_of_Sgt. Alvin C. York says:

      Yep–PA has a very strong Castle Doctrine. We had a cabin on Pymatuing Lake over in Espyville. Never had ANY issues, since everybody had a 12ga AND a high power rifle for deer handy. In fact, in the 30+ years there, I can’t remember any crime…..

      ..nuff said!

    • t42n24t2 says:

      First, my finger slipped. I did not mean to report this comment. Stupid keyboard.

  6. I think it is ridiculous that we have castle/stand your ground laws. Why? Because it shouldnt have to be a law that you can use deadly force to protect your family, home, and self if the need arises. It should just BE.

    But with the world we live in today, I guess that having these laws are a security for people who will actually use it, to protect them from money/power hungry people who will go after people for protecting their own.

    I am not a huge fan of living in texas for my own reasons, but I have to say, right now, I am thankful this is where I am at. If holder, or anyone else, thinks they are going to take our gun rights away, well lets just say I almost feel sorry for them.

    I wonder how much further the federal government is going to push before the people say enough.

    • the people will never say enough. As a whole they are a bunch of wusses that don’t want to give up their cushy life and would rather have everything handed to them.

  7. Colorado has the “Make My Day Law.” That will give you immunity to civil action by using deadly force in your home only. Not you car, your barn or your place of work.
    However our Sheriff and concealed instructors told (demanded) us to use complete deadly force if you know your life or the life of another is threatened. Anywhere. They did not say shoot them in the leg or threaten them. Take them down. Civilians are not trained in negotiation skills.
    I have not seen or heard of anyone near me being persecuted for defending themselves using deadly force. Usually when you read about it, you say, “Good for them.” and move on to page 2a. But the reality is. Most people are victims. They do not know how or are too afraid to defend themselves.
    I am not ashamed to say it and I will not be cowed down by people who would want me to be fearful of being persecuted. You threaten me and I mine I will open up a can of whoop ass that you will never forget. Or you won’t be around to remember it. So sue me. End of story.

    • Encourager says:

      Whoo-hooo! You rock, Mama J! “can of whoop ass” indeed. Only a fool would tangle with you!

  8. Encourager says:
  9. James Nelson says:

    I have strong doubts about the accuracy of this list. Michigan has a group of 4 laws passed in 2006 that are as strong as any in the country. No retreat, strong limits on a prosecutor’s ability to charge, strong civil lawsuit protection, presumption of intent protection when you are on your own property, are just some of the provisions of the laws.

  10. Buuurr in Ohio says:

    Ohio should be on there. We have a pretty strong castle law in my opinion. Deadly force may be used if someone is trying to enter or currently in your home/vehicle (at least that’s how it reads to me) and you deem them a threat to your or your family’s safety. There is no duty to retreat.

    • Buuurr is correct. I’ve taught the pistol course for our CHL license for years, and we generally have an attorney discussing the laws. Our castle doctrine is codified law, and covers you in your home, your car, or any other place of legal residence, including a tent while camping, or a hotel room. In these cases you are not obligated to retreat.
      Self defense requires that you have a sincere belief that you are in imminent threat of death or severe bodily harm, and you did not instigate the event; however, you must stop shooting once the threat has been neutralized

  11. Inventive says:

    From what I understand, Missouri should be on the strong Castle doctrine list. It extends to any building, or vehicle, temporary or permanent (includes tents) that’s designed for “overnight use” as well as any automobile, it also offers absolute defense against civil suits.

  12. Send this to all your friends, liberal or conservative who don’t really understand the stand your ground laws. It takes 18 minutes but it’s well worth it (or look up Massad Ayoob and stand your ground laws).,d.aWc

  13. Gary in Bama says:

    At one time comman sense and comman law filled in the gaps when no law was on record.Its a shame comman law is no longer recognised and common sense has no place in goverment!

  14. Missouri is a castle doctrine state with a “stand-your-ground” law. The state enacted a castle law in 2007 that removed the duty to retreat for persons who are attacked within their home or vehicle. The new law justifies the use of deadly force when victims reasonably believe their lives to be in danger, and provides them immunity from civil and criminal action.

  15. Arkansas has castle doctrine. But not make my day. Pretty sure. When I got my concealed carry, the instructor was clear: retreat if possible, and my home (car, workplace, etc) is my castle. I forgot a few things, but he was clear on that.

  16. Believe it or not, California has a Castle Doctrine. You just can’t shoot an unwanted person (like the guy your daughter let in through the window). Pretty amazing for this ultra liberal state.

    Here’s a good, succinct analysis of it for those Californians in the Pack:

  17. This nation was built on “stand your ground.” When we lose that resilient backbone we will fall as a nation. I write fiction on what I foresee as our future collapse. As the higher powers continue to attempt to erode our very spine I foresee my fiction becoming a reality.

    Charles Hurst, Author of THE SECOND FALL. An offbeat story of the Armageddon.

  18. Crazy Stevo says:

    A good article on stand you ground and also a list of every state (22states) that has the law is:

  19. patientmomma says:

    TN has Stand Your Ground with Castle Doctrine sprinkled throughout state laws and codes. However, what we saw happen in FL,— MSM twisted coverage to serve political purposes— can happen anywhere. These are dangerous times; protect yourself and family, know your neighbors, understand your community and laws.

  20. Donna in MN says:

    The Zimmerman trial didn’t have “stand Your ground” as legal justification for self defense. In the whole trial, it was mentioned once and irrevelent to the case linked to Zimmermans past knowledge if this law existed.. This trial was based on self defense, period.

    A new twist came when defense witness Ms. Jeantel was interviewed on C after the trial. She said she spoke to Travon on the phone while he was being checked out by Zimmerman, and she told Trayvon (who called Zimmerman a creepy a** cracka) he was a rmight be a rapist, and not to let him follow you home to get your little brother……It boils down to this..Trayvon circled around to get Zimmerman and beat him to a pulp because he thought Zimm was gay. If the truth by Ms Jeantel be told this on the witness stand, Zimmerman’s civil rights would be violated, a Federal Offense as well as criminal act by state standards. This new information turns everything upsidedown and if Holder tries to use civil rights violations against Zimmerman, it will blow up with Jeantel’s statements on CNN.

  21. William Baker says:

    Idaho adopted a castle law in 2006. We do not have stand your ground however. But the story is still incorrect on that issue.

  22. It seems to me that it would be simple logic that people have the right to defend themselves. If someone comes into your home to do you harm, why would the law not uphold your right to self-defense.

  23. Oh, one more thing. If I use deadly force in order to preserve my life, my family member’s life, or an innocent’s life, and I am in opposition to the law, I would “rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6”.
    The feelings of remorse or the legal battles seem pale compared to the guilt suffered if my child lay dead at my feet when I did nothing to protect him. I will concern myself with being right with God, not the legal system.
    In other words, tough! I will do as I please.

  24. I write fiction about this sort of thing. This is what bothers me. That we The People are not The People in 1776. History shows that half were Patriots. And they brought the other half around. Find me half today in-between Facebook and The Jersey Shore that would be willing to even miss lunch to stand up for freedom. This is where the danger lies and I believe the higher powers know it.

    Charles Hurst, Author of THE SECOND FALL. An offbeat story of Armageddon.

    • Charles,

      You will never get 50% of the people, in a public electronic forum, people who know they are on camera, or people who know they are under surveillance to publically stand up, raise their hand and announce that “I am a patriot”. That is blatantly stupid Operations Security. As sad, and pathetic as that sounds, unfortunately that’s the world we live in today. My best friend is fond of saying, “It’s only taken us until 2012 to reach 1984”. She’s been saying it for over a year.

      You are correct in saying that “We the People” are not the “We the People” from 1776. We are better educated, live to a longer age, have an overall general better income, are better fed, and have many, many more daily things to process that come at us at lightning speed than the patriots of 1776. A laser pointer would have made Ben Franklin have an aneurism because it was too far advanced for him to wrap his head around, let alone a moon landing. Some of us actually watched the “One small step for man…”.

      However, if I can walk along Venice Beach and tell the difference between an armed gang member and an undercover cop, I’ll bet you a quarter, that patriots can spot each other in a crowd just as easily. Have a little faith.

      Posting here is a nice marketing plan project to broadcast your pen name on a prepper based blog. It shows a little initiative, and I’m not being sarcastic. My ex-wife got her start by doing much the same thing within her genre. The difference between your posting style and your writing style are markedly different… Yet there is something familiar… (I like ellipses. Can you tell? Last week it was capitalized words. I like to change it up.)

      If you’ve never posted here before, welcome. If you have and I’ve missed it, nice to meet you. This is coming from me alone… Please stop telling me you’re an author and you write fiction. The hotlink in your screen name and your signature line already do that twice. You’re being redundant. If you want to get me to read the free PDF chapter you have on your website, tell me why you prep. There is a wonderful weekly segment called “What did you do to prep this week.” Post it there. You don’t have to say what you did if you don’t want to. I don’t list my preps for my own reasons, but I’m a faithful reader every week and I always learn something new.

      By the way, it’s the largest contributed segment every week.

      I look forward to hearing more from you.

  25. mr. parker says:

    Wisconsin has a strong Castle doctrine bill now and in the new (2011) concealed carry legislation, it exempts business owners from any liability from the actions of a permit holder if they don’t post their establishment with the no guns stickers.

Before commenting, please read my Comments Policy - thanks!