It is a basic human behavior to want to protect yourself and your belongings. When someone believes they are under attack or in threat of harm, the instinct is often to fight back.
There are self-defense laws and legal defenses that allow someone who has hurt their attacker to be acquitted of any violent charges brought against them.
In a step further, there are even stand your ground states that allow someone to avoid arrest or prosecution altogether even if the attacker is killed during the ordeal.
It is important to know the basics regarding the stand your ground law in Louisiana. In case of an unfortunate event, you will be prepared and know your rights.
What Is Stand Your Ground Law?
The basic definition of the stand your ground law is the right to defend yourself and your property even if that defense brings injury or death to the perpetrator or intruder. Another term for this is justifiable homicide.
There are a couple of differences between self-defense and stand your ground.
You can use self-defense if you are charged after a violent confrontation pretty much anywhere, while stand your ground can have limitations on where the attack can occur.
Another condition for self-defense is that you had no way to escape. A stand your ground claim does not have that restriction.
Read on for 7 more key facts.
1. Your Location is Important
The stand your ground law covers attacks or intrusions in three distinct locations. They must take place where you are legally allowed to be: in a home, at a place of business, or in a vehicle. There are even certain provisions that allow for someone to use this law if confronted in a public space.
This means someone cannot claim this defense if they are trespassing or otherwise at a location they do not have permission to be.
2. You Believe You Are in Imminent Danger
The next condition to this law is the belief you are in imminent danger. Simply put, you are afraid for your life. You believe the assailant or intruder intends to do extreme bodily harm to you or someone around you. The law also covers force used in an attempted robbery.
This can be by verbal threat, physical threat, or an actual ongoing assault. However, it cannot be a situation where you were the original aggressor. If someone starts a fight, then begins to lose that fight, the law does not protect them if they continue to hurt or kill the other party.
It is easy for things to get out of hand. Before you find yourself in legal trouble, learn how to avoid a disorderly conduct charge.
3. You Believe Deadly Force Is Necessary to Protect Yourself
In addition to fearing for your life, the stand your ground provision states you felt the only way to protect yourself was to use deadly force.
This means that in the moment there were no other options available to diffuse the situation. You are entitled and allowed to protect what is yours by justifiable homicide.
Having such an encounter can cause trauma or PTSD. It is important to seek help to move past this violent event.
4. That Belief Must Be Reasonable
The key to using this defense successfully hinges on the word reasonable.
The law provides reasonable belief as consistent with being lawfully at a place and feeling in immediate danger with the response to that danger being deadly force.
On another note, if the intruder has retreated or is trying to get away, it would be then be seen as unreasonable for you to continue with your attack. You are not allowed to chase someone in anger and then claim defense under stand your ground.
5. You Do Not Have to Retreat, Even If Able
While a self-defense claim cannot be used if there was a possible escape, in a stand your ground defense you do not have to retreat.
If you are in your Baton Rouge home and an intruder comes in through the back door, you are allowed to defend that home even if you have the option to run out the front door.
You do not have to retreat. You can legally confront the intruder and use force to stop the crime from being committed.
6. You Were Not Committing Any Illegal Acts
Another important fact to remember is that you cannot use this law to offer protection if you were committing an illegal act at the time.
This means someone involved in a drug deal that goes wrong cannot shoot their way out of the situation and then claim the stand your ground law. There has to be no illegal activity on the part of the victim.
Disputes can erupt and escalate quickly. If you caused damage to another’s property you could be facing simple criminal damage to property.
7. It Can Be Considered in Cases Against Police Officers
This is a very tricky situation. Again, you are unable to use the stand your ground defense if you are engaged in any illegal activity. So if you are being arrested for a crime, there is no provision for you.
However, in some rare cases, if you were unlawfully detained by law enforcement and felt you had no other recourse other than to do harm to protect yourself, this law could potentially be used in your defense.
You would have to be able to prove no illegal conduct on your part and intentional disregard on the part of the officers. Even if you are completely innocent of a crime, it is usually always in your best interest to settle things through the court process rather than taking the law literally into your own hands.
Know Your Rights
In Louisiana, you have the right to protect your person and your property. The stand your ground law allows you to use deadly force if there is a reasonable belief of immediate danger and bodily harm.
If you find yourself in need of a defense team to represent you in a stand your ground case or other potential criminal charges, I am here to help. You can learn more about my criminal law firm below.
You should now know more about 7 facts on criminal defense under the Louisiana Stand Your Ground Law.