stand your ground laws in Minnesota

No – not by the definition usually used for “stand your ground.” If there’s one primary differentiator between stand your ground laws and other self-defense statutes, it’s the duty to retreat. In states like Minnesota, you have a duty to retreat before utilizing deadly force in defense of yourself or others. If there is simply no means of retreat, and you reasonably believe you are at risk of suffering serious, possibly fatal injuries from the aggressor, you can potentially utilize deadly force in self defense without facing criminal consequences.

Minnesota has adopted what’s known as “castle doctrine.” This means when you’re in your home, your rights to self-defense do look much more like a stand your ground state in that you do not have a duty to retreat first. For example, if someone with a gun kicks down your door, and you (understandably) fear for your life or the life of your family, you do not have a duty to attempt retreat before resorting to deadly force.

States with the “Presumption of Fear”

There’s quite a bit of diversity among stand your ground laws in the United States. For example, some states with stand your ground laws have included what’s known as the presumption of fear. This means that prosecutors bringing charges against someone who claims self defense must prove the person who used excessive or deadly force to defend themselves did not have a reasonable reason to fear imminent death or great bodily harm. In other words, the burden of proof shifts from the defendant to the prosecutor to prove deadly force wasn’t justified.

The Civil Protections of Stand Your Ground Laws

In a state like Minnesota that doesn’t have stand your ground laws, you could still face civil lawsuits even if you kill someone in self-defense and it’s deemed a justifiable homicide by prosecutors or a jury. This means the person who defended themselves would face no criminal penalties but could still face a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of their attacker. In many states with stand your ground laws, the families of people killed by justifiable homicide generally cannot pursue civil damages against the person who legally defended themselves.

Who Started It?

One of the most common modifiers of stand your ground laws is the initiation of conflict rule. This essentially means that a person cannot provoke a fight and then use deadly force without suffering criminal consequences.

For example, if one driver starts honking and yelling at another driver, who then pulls over and gets out of their car, the driver who started the road rage incident could not then legally use deadly force against the other driver. Since they were the one who initiated hostilities, even if all other stand your ground factors would have justified their actions, they could still face charges.

Will Minnesota Have a Stand Your Ground Law?

Although attempts are occasionally made by some state legislators, the answer is most likely no. A recent bill, SF 13 in the 2021 – 2022 legislative session, attempted to “eliminate the common law duty to retreat in cases of self-defense outside the home” and “expand the boundaries of dwelling” to private vehicles “for purposes of self-defense.” That bill was officially dead as of May 2022.

Do You Require Criminal Defense Assistance in Minneapolis–St. Paul?

Despite having no technical stand your ground law in the state of Minnesota, residents are still entitled to self-defense in many situations. Justifiable homicide is a potentially effective defense strategy for people who reasonably believed they were at risk of serious bodily harm when they used deadly force to defend themselves.

If you wish to consult with a criminal defense lawyer in the Twin Cities, the referral counselors at the Minnesota Lawyer Referral and Information Service (MNLRIS) can help. We connect residents with experienced, thoroughly vetted criminal defense attorneys throughout Hennepin and Ramsey County. Call our referral counselors at (612) 752-6699 to find a lawyer near you.