Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Fayette | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Warren | Webster
Davis Motor Sales banner ad

Kentucky’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Explained

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

© Copyright 2014 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 by using one of the social media links below.

In Other News...

Early Squirrel Season Opening at Land Between The Lakes

GOLDEN POND, Ky. (4/17/14) — Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area’s 2014 spring squirrel hunting season will… Read More

Free Sports Physical Dates Set for Murray, Calloway, Eastwood Students

MURRAY, Ky. (4/19/14) – Murray-Calloway County Hospital will host its annual free sports physicals to local middle and… Read More

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

April 16, 2014 19198

UPDATE- Sheriff's Office Following Leads…

in Top Stories by Taylor Riley, SurfKY News Reporter
April 17, 2014 4147

KSP Nabs St. Charles Man Wanted by U.S.…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
April 15, 2014 3118

Police Searching for Sureway's 'Baby…

in Top Stories by Taylor Riley, SurfKY News Reporter
April 16, 2014 3033

Sheriff's Deputies Nab Central City…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
April 15, 2014 2757

Multi-Agency Investigation Leads to Drug…

in Top Stories by Lori Blakeley

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

April 17, 2014 4147

KSP Nabs St. Charles Man Wanted by U.S.…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
April 15, 2014 3118

Police Searching for Sureway's 'Baby…

in Top Stories by Taylor Riley, SurfKY News Reporter
April 15, 2014 2757

Multi-Agency Investigation Leads to Drug…

in Top Stories by Lori Blakeley
April 15, 2014 1070

State Approves $500K for Hopkins Archery…

in Top Stories by Rebecca Hanchett
April 18, 2014 848

Talking Teen Trashed Telephone Pole,…

in Top Stories by MPD

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

April 15, 2014 1688

Owensboro Police Investigate Auto Accident

in News by Michael Hathaway
April 15, 2014 1341

Owensboro Parks Offers Tennis Lessons

in News by Britni Bunn
April 15, 2014 998

Happenings and Meetings Owensboro

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
April 16, 2014 746

New Home Health Care Opens in Owensboro

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
April 15, 2014 677

OPD’s Annual 5K Run and Police Awareness…

in News by Owensboro Police Department

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

April 16, 2014 3033

Sheriff's Deputies Nab Central City…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
April 15, 2014 1993

'Walk Right Back' An Everly Brother's…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News Reporter
April 15, 2014 1820

Local MCHS Students Train at Job Corps

in Top Stories by Karen Robinson
April 15, 2014 1490

Thumbpickers Unite at Mose Rager Day

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News Reporter
April 16, 2014 1045

South Carrollton Woman Injured in Head-on…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)

SurfKY Owensboro News Bureau
920 Frederica St. / Suite 210  •  Owensboro, KY 42301  •  270.683-8060 (phone)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social 06social 21social 22social 04social 03