Since the 2012 shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, many people in the United States have repeatedly heard the term “Stand Your Ground” law. Such laws are in place in some of the states and justify the use of force against another person without first retreating, as long as you have a reasonable apprehension of harm. Stand Your Ground laws apply in any area, and you do not have to be in your home or car to use deadly force against a perceived aggressor. Illinois does not have a Stand Your Ground law at this time.
Forty-six states have some version of a law called the “Castle Doctrine.” This law allows a person to use force if they believe someone is unlawfully entering their home or vehicle, and many Castle Doctrine laws allow deadly force against intruders. In such states, a homeowner may shoot at an intruder even if they do not necessarily believe the intruder would have used deadly force against them. Though Illinois does allow you to defend your dwelling under the law, deadly force may only be used under certain circumstances.
Illinois Defense of Dwelling Law
Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/7-2 allows residents to use force in defense of their dwelling, if they believe that such force is necessary to stop another person from unlawfully entering the dwelling or attacking them within the dwelling. However, deadly force may not be automatically used in every circumstance. Instead, the following must apply to the situation:
- The intruder must enter in a violent, tumultuous, or riotous manner;
- The homeowner must believe that deadly force is necessary to protect himself or another person inside the dwelling from assault; or
- The homeowner must believe that deadly force is necessary to stop an intruder from committing a felony offense in the dwelling.
It is mostly up to the prosecutor to determine whether or not a person truly believed that deadly force was necessary, which can be difficult since it is impossible to know what a person was or was not thinking at the time. Circumstantial evidence may be used to try to prove a person’s state of mind to determine whether they were truly in fear of great bodily harm or death. An experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney knows how to cast doubt on the prosecutor’s case and show that you were, in fact, justified in using self-defense of your home.
In light of the new concealed carry laws in Illinois, many people are wondering whether Illinois will adapt its laws to allow you to stand your ground outside of your home. We will keep you informed of whether any of the self-defense laws change. In the meantime, just because you have a license to carry a concealed weapon does not mean that you are able to fire it against anyone. Many people who have a concealed carry license may find themselves facing serious criminal charges if they unjustifiably fire their weapon.
If you have any questions regarding self-defense laws in Illinois, call Illinois criminal defense attorney Steven Goldman at Goldman & Associates today.