July 29, 2019
The use of extreme violence is almost always against the law in Louisiana. One area where non-consensual violence may be permitted, though, is when a person is using violence in self-defense. Self-defense is the area of law where the “Stand Your Ground” provisions come into play.
What Does The Law Say?
Louisiana Statute 14:20 lays out situations in which a homicide is justifiable. There are several factors to a basic stand your ground situation, including:
- You believe you are in imminent danger of losing your life or suffering great bodily harm
- You believe the killing is necessary to save yourself from that danger
- Your belief is reasonable
The law cannot be used to defend yourself if you were involved, at the time of the homicide, in a drug crime of some kind.
Stand your ground law also applies to the protection of your dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle. In those cases, you must reasonably believe that the perpetrator is:
- Likely to use any unlawful force against you, or
- Attempting to use such force while committing or attempting to commit a burglary or robbery
What Is A Reasonable Belief?
The stand your ground defense depends on a finding that your use of deadly force was reasonable. The law assumes that your belief was reasonable under the following circumstances:
- You were legally present in the dwelling, place of business or vehicle
- You used deadly force against someone who was trying to enter unlawfully and forcibly, or who had already done so
- You were aware of the unlawful and forcible entry
The law is complex and carefully limited to prevent people from killing others and claiming self-defense when it was not justified.
Common Misconceptions Around the “Stand Your Ground” Law
As stated earlier, Louisiana Statute 14:20 does identify situations in which a homicide is justifiable. It does not protect someone who is looking for trouble, but it also doesn’t require you to take any possible opportunity to run away or otherwise escape the situation. The ability to leave through the back door when someone forces open your front door does not eliminate your right to use deadly force to defend your home.
Applying the “Stand Your Ground” Defense Against Police Officers
Self-defense is often claimed by people who use violence in an attempt to avoid being arrested. The law does not forbid people from standing their ground when the intruder is a peace officer. That said, it does prevent the use of the defense if you are engaged in unlawful activity or if you do not a right to be in the dwelling, place of business or vehicle.
Even if the arrest is unlawful—meaning police have no probable cause to arrest you—it is a bad idea to resist that arrest, particularly through violent means. You are far better off raising the argument that your arrest was unlawful in a court of law than in the heat of the moment when police are forcibly entering to arrest you.
Do You Think You Could Apply Stand Your Ground in Your Case? Call Us.
If you believe your use of force was justified, you should discuss the facts with your criminal defense lawyer. Probably presenting that defense can be the difference between an exoneration and a conviction for homicide.