Stand Your Ground text is written on a brick wall.

Does Minnesota Have a Stand Your Ground Law?

You may be wondering, does Minnesota have a stand your ground law? Minnesota does not have a stand your ground law. Instead, the state has a duty to retreat law that requires you to make reasonable attempts to escape before using force to defend yourself. You could lose the basis for claiming self-defense if the judge or jury determines that you had a reasonably safe opportunity to escape, but proceeded to use force.

Stand Your Ground text is written on a brick wall.

There is no specific Minnesota stand your ground law. Instead, Minnesota law imposes a “duty to retreat.” Stand your ground laws have received significant media attention in recent months, particularly in light of the George Zimmerman trial last year. Stand your ground laws are essentially a type of self-defense law, which varies from state to state.

While many states have enacted “stand your ground” laws, Minnesota does not have a so-called stand your ground law. Minnesota law imposes a “duty to retreat,” which means that if a person feels threatened, he or she may only use deadly force as a last resort. Conversely, states that have enacted stand your ground laws, like Florida, make it lawful for a person to use deadly force if threatened without a duty to retreat.

Minnesota Stand Your Ground Law Vs. Castle Doctrine

Most states – regardless of whether they have a form of stand your ground or duty to retreat law of self-defense – follow a so-called castle doctrine, whereby a person is not under a duty to retreat in his or her home. While some states have limited the castle doctrine when it applies to a co-resident of the home, Minnesota follows the majority rule that there is no duty to retreat in one’s home. Moreover, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held in State v. Glowacki, 630 N.W.2d 392 (2001) that “a person should not be required to retreat from the home before using reasonable force to defend himself, regardless of whether the aggressor is rightfully in the home” and that there is “no duty to retreat from one’s own home when acting in self-defense … regardless of whether the aggressor is a co-resident.”

Self-defense laws – whether stand your ground, the duty to retreat, or castle doctrine – are complex and difficult to understand. Self-defense laws frequently arise in cases involving charges of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, domestic violence, assault, and weapons violations.

If you have been charged with a serious felony crime that involves issues of proving self-defense, it is essential to consult with a criminal defense attorney who understands Minnesota’s self-defense laws and how they apply to various criminal charges. The Minnesota felony defense attorneys at Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys focus on representing clients in the Twin Cities facing felony charges involving murder or other violent crimes. We understand that your freedom and livelihood are on the line when you are facing such serious charges and that you are probably confused about your legal rights and options. Because we focus on defending clients charged with Minnesota state crimes and federal crimes, we can handle the legal, factual, and evidentiary issues that are involved with situations of self-defense.

Does Minnesota Recognize Deadly Force as Self Defense?

Minnesota law does not allow the use of deadly force in self-defense. Two exceptions apply to this rule. First, it’s when you reasonably believe that you are in imminent threat of significant bodily injury or death. The other exception is when trying to stop a felony-level offense in your home. 

Simply put, you can only use deadly force as self-defense if you reasonably believe you could sustain serious injuries or get killed. The facts and circumstances of the incident will determine whether the use of deadly force was justifiable. 

Using Weapons for Self-Defense in Minnesota 

Minnesota allows you to use weapons for self-defense. There is a caveat, however. Weapon use must be reasonable based on the perceived danger, and you must have a valid permit to possess and carry the weapon. 

Firearms, stun guns, pepper spray, and knives are some legal weapons you can use for self-defense. Illegal weapons include machine guns or machine gun conversion kits, guns with serial numbers altered, changed, or removed, and short-barreled guns. 

Proving Self-Defense 

Self-defense can be an effective defense against assault or murder charges if raised well. Proving this defense involves satisfying the following four elements: 

Lack of Provocation by the Defendant 

Generally, you cannot raise a self-defense claim if you provoked the other party or started the altercation. Two exceptions apply to this rule. You can initiate an attack and still claim self-defense if the other party retaliates with unreasonable force under the conditions. The other exception is when you abandon the altercation and the other party persists. Security camera footage and witness statements can be instrumental in proving this element. 

The Defendant Feared Imminent Severe Bodily Harm or Death Would Happen 

You can only use force in self-defense when facing an imminent attack or aggression. In other words, the attack is immediate and not an event that will happen in the future. The best way to deal with a threat of future attack is to notify local police. The officers can neutralize the attack by arresting or prosecuting the potential aggressor. 

Reasonable Grounds for this Fear Existed 

You must show that the fear of imminent bodily injury or death was objectively reasonable. An expert witness can explain whether another person under similar circumstances would have believed that imminent harm or death would occur. 

Lack of Reasonable Means to Retreat or Escape 

You can prove the use of reasonable force to stop an attack by showing that you did not have a reasonably safe means to retreat or otherwise avoid the attack. An expert witness can help the jury understand why the degree of force used to neutralize the perceived danger was reasonable.

A criminal defense attorney conversant with Minnesota self-defense laws can analyze specific details of your case to determine if you have a valid self-defense claim. If so, the attorney can help gather and compile the evidence required to prove each element of your claim.

Call Now for a Free Consultation

If you are facing criminal charges, do not delay. Contact the Minneapolis criminal defense law firm of Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys at (952) 913-1421 today to learn more about how we can help defend you, including the assessment of any self-defense issues.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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