Many lawmakers throughout the country believe that when one person threatens another, the person being threatened should have the right to defend him or herself. Because of this, many states have enacted “stand your ground laws,” which remove one’s duty to retreat before he or she uses force in self-defense. Other states have similar laws but with one key difference. The “castle doctrine” also removes one’s duty to retreat when faced with a threat; however, for the doctrine to apply, the threatening event must take place in a specific location, such as in one’s home or place of business. Montana is one of several states to abide by the castle doctrine.
FindLaw details the three types of self-defense laws and notes their differences. States that follow stand your ground laws impose no duty for a person to retreat from a threatening situation before resorting to deadly force. A person may use force to defend him or herself regardless of where he or she is at the time of the threat.
States that adhere to the castle doctrine, such as Montana, impose no duty to retreat from a threat if the threat takes place in his or her home or yard. Some states extend the right to defend oneself with force to work environments and vehicles.
Half of all states do impose a duty to retreat from threatening situations. In these states, the law requires residents to walk away if they can safely do so. If walking away is not an option, only then can a person resort to deadly force. However, even in duty-to-retreat states, laws do not impose a duty to retreat from an intruder in one’s own home.
This article is not meant to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.