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Is California a Stand Your Ground State?
(4 Self-Defense Types)

Under California law, a person generally has the right to “stand their ground” and use deadly force without retreating when threatened by an attacker in a life-or-death situation. However, there are nuances to California’s stand your ground laws that you should know about.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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What is the Stand Your Ground Law?

A stand-your-ground law, also commonly referred to as a "line in the sand" or "no duty to retreat" law, dictates that individuals may use deadly force to defend themselves against certain violent crimes.

Under this law, people are not obligated to retreat before exacting deadly force in self-defense, so long as they are in a place where they are legally allowed to be. The exact details of stand-your-ground laws vary by jurisdiction.

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What is Self-Defense?

The legal concept of self-defense asserts that a defendant acted in a manner consistent with protecting themselves, another individual, or their property against violence by another.

California law allows defendants to use self-defense to justify their actions when charged with certain violent offenses during a criminal trial. If self-defense is proven through the evidence during the trial, a jury may acquit a defendant due to their actions being justifiable under the circumstances.

Related Article: Legal Self-Defense Weapons in California

When Can Self-Defense Be Used Legally in California?

To successfully argue self-defense in a California court, a defendant must prove the following things:

  1. They reasonably believed that they or another person was in imminent danger of being harmed, killed, or suffering great bodily injury
  2. They reasonably believed that the imminent use of force was necessary to defend against harm
  3. They only used enough force to reasonably defend against the harm
  4. The other party attacked first

Excessive Force Exception

In certain jurisdictions, a person cannot respond to another’s attack using excessive force under the circumstances. For example, an individual cannot use deadly force when another person attacks with non-lethal force. If an individual does resort to deadly force against a non-deadly force attack, the defendant can use reasonable force in self-defense.

Also Read: Castle Doctrine in California?

What is the Castle Doctrine?

A castle doctrine is a legal framework that designates an individual's legally occupied place (i.e. home, vehicle) as a location in which that person has protections and immunities permitting one to use force to defend oneself against an intruder, free from legal prosecution for the consequences of the force used.

The term "castle doctrine" is most commonly used in the U.S., though many other countries invoke comparable principles in their laws. A castle doctrine may also be referred to as a castle law or a defense of habitation law.

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