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When and where can you legally act in self-defense?

On Behalf of | May 22, 2020 | Criminal Law |

As is the case with most people in Oklahoma City, you probably never envisioned yourself facing criminal charges. Then again, you also never anticipated being in a position of having to defend yourself (or your family) with force.

Yet when placed in such a scenario, you likely acted as many others would. If the results of your actions are potential criminal consequences, then you need to understand to what extent the law allows you to act in self-defense.

Defining a duty to retreat

Self-defense laws typically revolve around the philosophy of a “duty to retreat,” What this means is that when faced with a potential confrontation, the imposes a duty on you to retreat from the situation (when the situation allows for it). However, concern for your own safety (or that of others) may often override that duty. The legal community defines this as the “stand your ground” principle, and with it comes the right to defend yourself (and others) when you reasonably believe that serious injury or death may be imminent. A limited form of the “stand your ground” philosophy also exists known as “the Castle Doctrine.” This also supersedes the duty to retreat from threatening situations, yet limits those situations to you defending your home, your personal vehicle or other type of personal dwelling.

Oklahoma’s self-defense laws

A review of Oklahoma’s laws related to self-defense reveals that the state follows the Castle Doctrine. Indeed, Section 1289.25 of the state’s Crimes and Punishments Code states that you have the right to defend the safety of any of the following locations:

  • Your home
  • Your personal vehicle
  • Your business
  • Your place of worship

The law assumes a fear of suffering death or serious injury if one attempts to unlawfully enter any of the aforementioned locations to forcefully remove you (or another) or to presumably commit a felony.