Is there a statute that specifically addresses whether you can stand your ground? If so, how is it related to the Castle Doctrine? Are there any myths involved in the invocation of stand your ground and is this something that’s shared by all jurisdictions?
The Georgia Stand Your Ground Law
Official Code of Georgia 16-3-23.1 is known as the “use of force in defense of habitation, property, self, or others—no duty to retreat.” This is what it says. A person who uses threats or force in accordance with code section 16-3-21, which is the use of force in defense of self or others, 16-3-23, which is the use of force in defense of habitation, or 16-3-24, which is the use of force in defense of property other than a habitation, has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use force as provided in those code sections, including deadly force.
What that means is if you are justified in using threats of force, force, or deadly force to protect yourself or others, to protect your habitation, your home, your car, your place of business, or to protect your property other than your habitation, the law in Georgia says you have no duty to retreat and you can stand your ground and exercise that level of force, including deadly force, so long as you are justified in the use of that force. Whether you’re justified in the use of that force or not depends on the statute that you rely upon in using it. For instance, if you use deadly force against another person to protect yourself, you can only stand your ground if you’re justified in using that level of force.
In other words, you’re excluded from using deadly force as a justification if you initially provoke an attack in order to use force, if you’re attempting to commit a crime, or if you were the primary aggressor. In other words, if you can’t use the justification of defense by deadly force, then you cannot avail yourself with the stand your ground law. If you are justified in the use of force, threats of force, or deadly force, either to protect yourself or another person, your home, your car, your place of business, or your property, then the law in Georgia allows you to stand your ground and use that level of force.
How is the stand your ground law connected to the Castle Doctrine?
Now, it’s not actually a statute in Georgia. It’s what is known as a legal philosophy. It’s a method of thinking that’s very old and it’s been a part our law for quite a long time. Now, when we talk about the Castle Doctrine in Georgia, it’s connected with a statute. It’s connected with the defense of habitation statute. Official Code of Georgia 16-3-23: that’s Georgia’s Castle Doctrine.
The legal concept comes from the philosophy that every person is the king or queen of his or her castle (your castle being your home). As the king or queen, you have no duty to retreat when an invader invades, and if there is an intruder in your home, you have the right to defend your habitation (that’s a dwelling, a motor vehicle, or a place of business).
In conjunction with the stand your ground law, that means if someone invades your home, invades your habitation or your castle, you have a right to stand your ground and protect your home, your car, your place of business, or whatever is considered your castle. The Castle Doctrine is very heavily-woven into defense of habitation. If you’re justified in defending your habitation (your castle), then the law allows you to stand your ground. You do not have to seek an arena of retreat. You do not have to seek an avenue of retreat.
A common misconception regarding Georgia self-defense laws
Some know it as the 21 foot rule. Back in the ’80s, there were some studies and positions that indicated if your attacker was within 21 feet of you, he or she could get to you before you got to your firearm. It means that if your attacker was inside 21 feet of you, it was okay to use deadly force. Outside 21 feet, it was not okay. There’s no bright line rule about these types of use of force in Georgia. In fact, there’s very little anywhere about whether there’s a specific distance. Every case is different and depends on that specific set of facts. There is no 21 foot rule. Someone who’s 40 feet away from you could potentially do as much damage as someone who is five feet away from you.
If you are in your home and you are defending your home from an intruder, 21 feet or no, if you’re justified in the use of deadly force, you can stand your ground. Georgia citizens are lucky to have this type of protection, because a lot of states do not have stand your ground laws. As a matter of fact, in some states, you must seek an avenue of escape before you use force to defend yourself. At least in that instance, we are very lucky that the statutes in Georgia allow us to do so.
More on Georgia Gun Laws
The 21 foot rule does not exist. If you’re in a position in your home where you must protect yourself or your family, do so and stand your ground.
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As correctly explained in the blog post, the 21-foot “rule” was never a rule, nor was it a statement of legal principle. It was a tactical training tool developed by John Tueller, a lieutenant and firearms instructor with the Salt Lake City, Utah, police department. It was used to illustrate the “reactionary gap” between the time a police officer recognized the existence of a deadly threat (when an assailant armed with a knife began moving towards the officer to attack him) and the time it took the officer to draw their weapon from the holster and engage the target. In effect, the Tueller Drill helped officers understand the difference or “gap” between the action (of the criminal suspect) and the reaction (of the police officer). It was never meant as an absolute rule from a tactical standpoint and it was never meant to illustrate or state a legal use of force principle.
The Tueller Drill morphed from a tactical training tool to a rule because officers and legally armed citizens were looking for a fast, easy to apply guide on when they could use deadly force against someone armed with an edged weapon. The problem is that the use of deadly force cannot be reduced to a rote formula, such as “21 feet + knife = I can shoot.” The law requires that a cognitive thought process, however brief as required by the circumstances, take place before deadly force can be employed. After an incident the person who used deadly force must be able to articulate the circumstances that were present that allowed them to reasonably calculate that they could used deadly force in response to an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury. That reasonable belief cannot be dependent on a rote formula such as the misstated, misunderstood, and misapplied “Tueller rule.”
Great post Jennifer Anderson. Thank you.
What is the status opf Stand Your Ground in the current Georgia Legislative session?
If we have a stand your ground law where you can shoot someone , why is it illegal to point your gun at someone to warn them off so you don’t have to shoot them?
Very good question
A older friend of mine who was in his late 70’s was arrested, and jailed, without bond, for over 12 months for shooting his gun into the air, three times, to warn off some rowdy teens who were beating on the side of his mobile home, at 0100 AM. This was in an isolated area out in the county, 15 miles out of town. This occurred in Emanuel County, Ga. three years ago.
@daryl covington, the description above does say that ‘threats of force’ are included in the stand your ground law.
Because in most cases that is called brandishing a firearm.
If some one is holding a tire iron and is threatening you you can pull your gun I think you would be safe.
It’s all a case by case basis, I will say if you ever have to pull a gun to stop a threat still call the police or you may be facing assault charges because who ever calls the police first is the victim
Has the State of Georgia moved to incorporate and secure “State 2nd Amendment Sanctuary” Status along with a growing number of states making changes to their State Constitutions for protection from federal infringement on the amendment?
If your neighbor asks you to watch his house, while he is gone or something like that, how would the castle doctrine and stand your ground impact that instance?
With the riots etc. would they apply on your lawn?
Do we have to have “No Trespassing” signs to start enforcing on our lawns?
Do they have the right to protest in our neighborhoods? If not, Where do our rights start?
Wow now that’s a pondering question there. I say my opinion and what seems logical and right would be treat it as if it was your home. Why, because if there are minor children and/or pets and you know “factly” then you were given a responsibility to show integrity, loyalty, and love to another human. To live is to care about life itself. That mean’s “love thy neighbor”. I say do what you feel like is the best and right thing to do. If you don’t panic for the logic. I just came across this sight only a few minutes ago. Because I was having a curious thought and question about weapons and tools. Not many people have these kind of thought processes. Those who don’t need to be given more awareness of subjects like this so they aren’t being trapped by made up shit and cause problems for them. Thats why we all messed up now. Good people done unjustified ways and treated like criminals that are Satan’s kids are turned completely around and they have to become a bit out of their own character just to not be done like that again. It’s really sad. Anger issues and depression and PTSD are mainly stemmed from those I believe. Long term affect. I want to crete a lawsuit on some things since a lot of others are even true or real. Anyway I need to stop because this is sensitive to me and my anxiety gets out of control. But I love that question, oddly.
If a drunk individual is breaking out your homes window glass from the outside your home at 0300 are you able to legally shoot him from inside your home?
I was protecting myself, in my home, when my daughter’s boyfriend started getting violent with me, after I showed him I was defending myself against him, he ran outside, he then called the cops on me! And the law detained me. The cops came in my home even though I told them they couldn’t enter. They told me it didn’t matter what I said. I didn’t have anything in my hand. What can I do? And Was that even legal?
Hi Cheryl! Thanks for your question. Our members can call our non-emergency line at 1-877-448-6839 to ask our independent program attorneys questions.
Why didn’t the Stand Your Ground Law apply when Ahmaud Arbery grabbed the shotgun of Travis McMichael and then additionally started throwing punches at him as can be seen on the videotape? It certainly seems that it was in this legal right to act in the manner that he did since it is written that one is allowed “the use of force in defense of self or others”, and particularly as he claimed that he felt that his life was in imminent danger. Any reason why this rule was not allowed in court, and by a law-abiding citizen no less who was accompanied by his law officer father who were attempting to make a Citizen’s Arrest which at that time was legal in that county?
Because the 3 men that followed him with firearms were the aggressors. And georgia law states (at the time) that you must have 1st hand knowledge of a crime to envoke citizens arrest.
Note to editor: In reviewing my comment that is currently awaiting moderation, I realized that I made a small but noticeable grammatical error in it The clause that reads; “It certainly seems that it was in this legal right to act in the manner that he did”, should of course read “It certainly seems that it was in his legal right to act in the manner that he did”. So the word “this” should have been “his” instead. I did proofread my comment but somehow it slipped past my attention, probably because the print type is so small. So if you do decide to publish that comment of mine please correct that small error if you possibly can, but don’t of course publish this request to correct that error.
In the Aubrey case, the guy with the shotgun was the aggressor. Ahmed was simply jogging/running down the street when he was chased and trapped. Why wouldn’t you think he has the right time defend himself from armed people who, it has been proven, had no justification to stop or detain him. Ahmed did what he thought was right to try to protect himself. The law states if you are the aggressor, you cannot claim stand your ground. By chasing and trapping him, they were the aggressor, not Ahmed. The jusry saw this as well. They had no proof he had stolen anything, at any time. Even if he had stolen anything and had it in his possession, it does not equal a death sentence. Yes, Ahmed was punching. But in DEFENSE of himself!
What if I was fighting somebody and their friend shot me in my back like a coward… Btw I initiated the first punch
My boyfriend is currently in jail almost a year now, punching a guy, who he warned for over an hour to leave us alone. The guy then snatched away from another man who was trying to deescalate the scene, ran and punched my boyfriend uncle and they began to fight, once my boyfriend uncle and dude was separated the guy lounged at my boyfriend, he punched him once in the chin and knocked him out. Dude was the aggressor, but they charging my boyfriend
Janessa.. just my personal opinion but.. On your comment about your boyfriend going to jail over the fight what you said seems to indicate that you had a unqualified attorney but it also seems like maybe there’s details not there in your comment that would indicate circumstances beyond what you’re saying.