The United States operates under the common law principle of the “castle doctrine,” which states that individuals have the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves against trespassers on their property. “Reasonable force,” in this case, includes deadly force. Every state has since classified and expanded upon this doctrine to create their own legislatures. The National Conference of State Legislatures explores Georgia’s take on the castle doctrine.
In 1980, Florida was the first state to provide protection from prosecution for those who used deadly force against those who forcibly trespassed upon their property. The laws that provided said immunity were then known as “make my day” laws. In 2005, the state then expanded upon these laws to include a provision regarding self-defense and the obligation to retreat. To paraphrase, Florida law states that a person who is not involved in illegal activity and who gets attacked in a place he or she is legally allowed to be is not required to retreat from the attacker. Rather, the person has the freedom to stand his or her ground and, if necessary, use deadly force to prevent grave physical harm or death to him or herself or to another person or to stop the carrying-out of a felony.
25 states have a provision in their legislature that does not require those who are lawfully present to retreat from an attacker. Georgia is one of those states.
Another 22 states provide civil immunity for certain circumstances of self-defense. Georgia is, again, one of them.
This article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as legal advice.