STAND GROUNDLEXINGTON, Ky. (7/16/13) – Recent debates surrounding the nationally publicized George Zimmerman trial have shined a spotlight on the array of laws pertaining to self-defense, particularly “stand your ground” laws.

Kentucky is one of more than 20 states that have enacted laws that specifically affirm a person’s right to “stand their ground” when they are defending themselves from an unlawful threat, removing the duty to retreat from the situation that is present in other self-defense laws.  

Greg Coulson, public defender for Bourbon County, explained what the law means for residents of the Commonwealth.

“Stand your ground is a change in the self-defense defense,” he said. “You always have a right to self-defense, but under the common law if you had the ability to run away or retreat in full safety without risking being injured by the person who is attacking you then you have a duty to that. You have what was called the duty to retreat. The stand your ground law changes that standard. It says if you are in any place that you are legally allowed to be, you don't have a duty to retreat.”

In cases where the “duty to retreat” comes into play, it is up to the jury to establish whether someone had the ability to run away.

“It's a tough thing,” said Coulson. “If someone is standing there with a knife and ready to knife you, can you really turn your back and run away without being concerned that the person is just going to run you down and stab you in the back? It's hard to think of a situation where you can be attacked with deadly force and you have the ability to retreat in complete safety.”

Coulson said there are two parts to the self-defense statute in Kentucky, which is distinct from the “stand your ground” law. In all 50 states, defending yourself or others from serious injury or death can be used as a defense in a murder or assault trial. However in Kentucky, acting in self-defense can make a person immune from being prosecuted in the first place if there was a reasonable belief that someone would imminently cause serious bodily injury or death.

The statute has special protections for people who are in their home. If a person is entering or unlawfully present in your home, the law automatically considers that a reason to believe the intruder is going to cause physical injury or death. In other words, if you are in your home you do not have to wait to be attacked to “stand your ground.”

Coulson said this prevents homeowners from having to go through the hardships of a criminal prosecution.* He added that Kentucky’s immunity statute is much more important than the “stand your ground” laws in most cases.

“What it does is it removes a barrier that people have when they have to use physical force in order to defend themselves,” he said. “It's one less hurdle for somebody who used deadly force or physical force to overcome when they're trying to prove they weren't out acting maliciously and they were trying to save their lives, or the lives of another person.”

*Clarification: The law states you have a right to defend your residence. A landlord would not be protected even though he owned the home, it would have to be his residence to avoid prosecution. He would be protected under the “stand your ground” law, however.

David Gillum
SurfKY News

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

Shrek Comes to Glema Center

HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (5/5/15) — Glema Mahr Center for the Arts Director Brad Downall highlights the upcoming schedule… Read More

Two Vehicle Collision Sends Three to Local Hospitals

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Ky. (5/5/15) — According to a McCracken County Sheriff's report, on May 4, 2015, at approximately… Read More

Most Read This Week

April 28, 2015 4345

Search for Stolen Vehicle Ends with Woman Charged…

by SurfKY News
May 05, 2015 3897

Meth Charge Follows MPD Investigation into…

by SurfKY News
April 28, 2015 3490

Man Charged with Stalking Smoke Shop Clerk

by MPD
May 05, 2015 3440

School Board Studies Further Spending Cuts

by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
April 30, 2015 2982

Family Says 'Goodbye' to Dog After It Allegedly…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

April 17, 2015 15997

An Open Letter from an Addict

by Olivia Kirks
April 23, 2015 8616

Man Charged with Sodomy, Incest/Victim under 12

by SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

May 05, 2015 3897

Meth Charge Follows MPD Investigation into…

by SurfKY News
May 05, 2015 3440

School Board Studies Further Spending Cuts

by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
May 06, 2015 1898

Gant Chosen as Pupil Personnel Director

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 05, 2015 1249

Madisonville Man Goes to Hospital after…

by SurfKY News
May 05, 2015 1154

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - May 5, 2015

by SurfKY News
May 05, 2015 1144

Two on Moped Injured in Collision with Car

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
May 05, 2015 1010

Baptist Health Madisonville Establishes Foundation

by Kristy J. Quinn
May 06, 2015 903

Hopkins Grand Jury Indictments Handed Down

by Karen McKnight
May 05, 2015 709

SurfKY Spotlight: First Kentucky Bank

by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
May 05, 2015 664

May 2015 In-House Rabies Clinics' Schedule

by Barry L. Franklin