Does Washington Follow the ‘Stand Your Ground’ Doctrine?

SQ Attorneys

Under the law, we are generally allowed to defend ourselves when threatened by another person, but self-defense laws vary with each jurisdiction. For example, some states have “stand your ground laws” while others require a person to retreat before using force. There are also some states that combine these two ideas by following the “castle doctrine” where a person doesn’t need to retreat in their own home or place of business. Regardless of which of these approaches a jurisdiction follows, nearly all self-defense laws require that any force used must be proportionate to the harm that was feared.

In order to better understand Washington’s self-defense laws, it’s helpful to define a few related terms. For purposes of self-defense, “necessary” means that there was no other reasonably effective alternative to the use of force and that the amount of force used was reasonable. Furthermore, “deadly force” is defined as using a firearm or any other means that is likely to cause serious physical injury or death.

In states that have adopted the “Stand your ground” rules, it is important to understand that there are still certain restrictions when it comes to using force in self-defense. For example, they may require that the threat of perceived harm is objectively reasonable and that the force used be proportional to the threat. Stand your ground laws may also require that the person using self-defense be at the location lawfully (for example, no trespassing) and not be the initial aggressor in the altercation.

On the other end of the legal spectrum, some states impose a duty to retreat. A duty to retreat generally means that you can’t resort to deadly force in self-defense if you can safely avoid the risk of harm or death (by walking away, for example). If that’s not an option, say if you were cornered or pinned down and facing serious harm or death, then you would be authorized to use deadly force in self-defense.It’s important to note that, even in duty-to-retreat states, there’s no duty to retreat from an intruder in your home. These states all adhere to some version of the castle doctrine as well.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer

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