Do you have a duty to retreat in Tennessee?

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2023 | Violent Crimes |

The right to use self-defense to protect yourself is one that people have all over the country. If you honestly believe that you are in imminent danger and you could be killed or suffer serious physical harm, you can use force to defend yourself. You can also use force to protect other people, such as members of your family who may be with you at the time.

However, in some states, you have a duty to try to avoid confrontation first. This is known as a duty to retreat. This doesn’t mean that you can’t defend yourself, but just that you have to utilize clear avenues to escape the confrontation and prevent violence from occurring before you do so. Does Tennessee have this type of law?

You do not have to avoid a confrontation

When you use self-defense in Tennessee, you are not bound by any duty to retreat, and you do not have to do anything to avoid the confrontation. You cannot claim self-defense if you were the aggressor, but you do not have to retreat just because someone else is acting in an aggressive manner. This is true whenever you are in a location where you have a legal right to be, whether that is private property or a public location.

This last point is important because even other states that do have a duty to retreat, such as Maryland, still tend not to apply that standard if the event happens at your house. You can always protect yourself in your own home. Tennessee just extends that protection so that you can stand your ground anywhere that you can legally be, not just in your home.

If you are facing criminal charges, be sure you know what legal defense options you have, especially if you want to plead self-defense.


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