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Is it a crime to defend yourself in your own home?

In most states, if your life is threatened in your own home, you can defend yourself using deadly force. The  specifics of self-defense laws vary from state to state, and what one state may consider self-defense could be considered murder or manslaughter in another. It’s critical to understand the laws governing self-defense in your right to defend yourself in homestate, particularly if you own a gun.

Understanding Georgia Laws Governing Self Defense

Some states still recognize a Duty to Retreat law that requires you try to first retreat from a threatening situation, if possible. If you know you can escape the threat, you must try. However, many states have adopted the Castle Doctrine law that says you have no duty to retreat if you’re in your own home or at work, as well as the “Stand Your Ground Law” that broadens the Castle Doctrine. It states you have no duty to retreat in any place where you have a lawful right to be.

Georgia does not have a Duty to Retreat law; instead, it recognizes both the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws. In general, the Castle Doctrine states you are justified in using deadly force against someone who is about to kill you in your home. Some states extend the definition of “home” to mean a person’s car, place of work, or business. The Stand Your Ground law allows crime victims who fear their lives are threatened to use deadly force outside the “home.” In Georgia, you are not justified in using deadly force if:

  • You were committing a felony before the attack and were reacting to being stopped
  • You provoked an attack, so you could harm the assailant
  • You attacked another party who agreed to proceed in a combative situation. Additionally, you can’t continue the attack if the other party states his intent to “withdraw from the encounter.”

We Can Help

If you were attacked in your own home or place of business and have questions about your lawful right to have used deadly force, Duffy & Feemster can help. We will examine your specific situation and explain Georgia laws as they relate to your case. Contact our offices at 888-707-1197 for your free consultation.


Dwight T. Feemster
Dwight is a civil and criminal attorney in Georgia.

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