Is Tennessee a “stand your ground” state for self-defense claims?

On Behalf of | Sep 4, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

If someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night, physically attacks you, possibly with a weapon, or otherwise poses an imminent threat to you or someone you love, you may need to use physical force to protect yourself and other people.

Understanding what Tennessee allows people to do in a situation where they must defend themselves or someone else is important. After all, you aren’t going to have time to do an internet search in a moment of fear.

Every state in the country has some law that allows for self-defense when someone faces the threat to their own safety or life. One of the big differences from state to state is whether the individual defending tried to retreat before they use force. States that permit the use of force without an obligation to retreat are known as stand your ground states. Is Tennessee one of them?

There is no duty to retreat in Tennessee

If an individual has reason to truly fear for their bodily safety or their life, they do not need to try to leave the place where they experienced that threat. Instead, they have the right to remain in place and use physical force, including possibly lethal force, against the individual threatening them.

There are certain limitations to this right however, which are important for people to understand before they act in self-defense. The biggest limitation is that you cannot be trespassing or committing a crime when you attempt to defend yourself. Additionally, it will be difficult for you to claim self-defense in a situation where you initiated physical violence.

In situations where someone commits a crime or tries to victimize you, you can use an appropriate level of force to protect yourself and the other people nearby from that threat. 

You may need to prove you acted in self-defense

Depending on the circumstances, you could potentially face arrest after a situation where you defend yourself. If there isn’t enough evidence about the circumstances or if you and the person that you had to defend yourself against have different versions of events, you could potentially face assault or even murder charges and need to prove that you acted in self-defense to the courts.

Getting help early on if you wind up arrested after taking action to defend yourself will give you time to prepare a defense strategy against the charges that you face.


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