The Castle doctrine or “stand your ground law” varies from state to state. The Castle doctrine is a common law doctrine stating that an individual has no duty to retreat when he is in his or her home, and may use reasonable force, including deadly force, to defend his or her property, person, or another. Outside of the home however, an individual has a duty to retreat, if able to do so, before using reasonable force. Stand your ground laws, by comparison, remove the common law or requirement to retreat outside of one’s home, allowing an individual to use force in self-defense when there is a reasonable belief of a threat. Deadly force is reasonable under stand your ground laws in certain circumstances, such as imminent great bodily harm or death.

Forty-six states have incorporated the Castle doctrine into law. Most, if not all states courts have recognized the common-law privilege to challenge an unlawful entry into one’s home, to the extent that a person’s conduct does not rise to the level of a crime. Deadly force is justified in defense of one’s property by a person who is privileged to be on the premises reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent an attempt by the criminal trespass or to commit any crime of violence.

As of the writing of this article 20 states have stand your ground laws. Generally, these laws allow an individual to use force in self-defense when there is a reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first if the individual (one) has a legal right to be at the location and (two) is not engaged in an unlawful activity. Most states laws specifically requires an individual to retreat, if able to do so, before using reasonable force.

Castle Doctrine

Castle Doctrine and Gun OwnershipThe Castle doctrine is a common-law doctrine that designates a person’s home (or, in some states, anyplace legally occupied, such as a car or place of work) is a place in which the person has certain protections and immunities and allow such a person in certain circumstances, to attack an intruder instead of retreating. Typically, deadly force is considered justified homicide only in cases when the actor reasonably feared imminent peril of death or serious bodily harm to oneself or another. The doctrine is not a defined law that can be invoked, but is a set of principles which is incorporated in some form in the law of most states. 46 states including Illinois, have incorporated the Castle doctrine into law.


Florida stand your ground law came into the national spotlight following the shooting death of teenager Trey von Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman. Florida law states that a person has a right to stand his or her ground if he or she (one) reasonably believes it’s necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm, (two) is not engaged in an unlawful activity and (three) is attack in any place where he or she has a right to be (F S A 776. 013 (3)).

Florida courts have interpreted the legislature’s creation of the stand your ground law as creating an affirmative defense expanding the right of self-defense and abolishing the common-law “duty to retreat” when a person uses deadly force in self-defense to prevent imminent great bodily harm or death. But in cases where a defendant is engaged in an unlawful activity was in a place where he did not have a right to be at the time he was attacked, the common-law duty to retreat still applies “Dorsey if the. State, 7 4 S0. 3D 5 2 1 (2 0 1 1)).

Check Your States Laws!

Be sure to check your home state and or any state you may be traveling through while concealed carrying. The laws vary from state to state. What may be legal in your home state may not be in the state you are visiting or passing through.

Remember, legally carrying and concealing a firearm for self-defense is an incredible responsibility and not to be taken lightly. Planning ahead and checking each states laws not only regarding the Castle doctrine and stand your ground laws but also concealed carry laws is a vital and important part of your travel plans. You wouldn’t begin a cross country driving trip without consulting several maps before you began your journey, why would you begin it without consulting those same states “maps” or laws regarding concealed carry and Castle doctrine laws.