“Stand your ground” is the colloquial term for laws that allow you to apply force as self-defense without the obligation to retreat first. Not all states in the U.S. have such a law. In states that don’t have a “stand your ground” law, you’re required to first try to escape the danger before you can legally use force as self-defense.
Is Minnesota a “stand your ground” state?
No, Minnesota does not have a “stand your ground” law. Instead, it has the Minnesota “duty to retreat,” requiring an individual to exhaust all options for escaping before resorting to using force for self-defense.
This is significant in criminal cases where the defendant claims self-defense against an attacker. If it is found that the defendant had a chance to escape but went straight to using force, they could lose their grounds for a self-defense claim.
Minnesota Castle Doctrine
Though Minnesota requires retreating before using force in most scenarios, one major exception is if the attack occurs in your home. If you’re in your place of residence, you’re not required to escape before using reasonable force on an attacker. This legal concept is called the “castle doctrine” or “castle law”, named after the old saying that “a man’s home is his castle.”
Here are commonly asked questions regarding what’s allowed and not allowed under the castle doctrine in MN:
Is it legal to defend your property with force in Minnesota?
Minnesota Statute 609.06, the primary self-defense law in the state, authorizes the use of reasonable force to defend your property. However, the operative word is “reasonable.” The amount of force used must be proportionate to the perceived threat. An example of disproportionate or unreasonable force might be shooting an unarmed person who is only passing through your yard.
Is deadly force allowed as self-defense in Minnesota?
Statute 609.065 clearly states that the use of deadly force is not authorized by Minnesota self-defense law, except if:
- a person “reasonably believes” that they are in danger of great bodily harm or death, or
- a person is trying to prevent a felony in their place of residence.
In other words, deadly force is only justifiable if you reasonably believe you could be severely injured or killed. Once again, the reasonableness of the action is a key issue here that juries decide on in each case.
Can you use force against someone who lives in your home?
The castle doctrine applies not only to trespassers but also to co-residents. If a co-resident attacks you in the home you share, you don’t have to try to escape before using force to defend yourself.
This was the decision of the Minnesota Court of Appeals in State v. Glowacki, stating that “a person should not be required to retreat… regardless of whether the aggressor is rightfully in the home.”
Legal Self-Defense Weapons in Minnesota
The use of weapons for self-defense is allowed in Minnesota, as long as their use is reasonable in relation to the attack and that the possession and carrying of the weapon is permitted by law.
Firearms, knives, pepper spray, and stun guns or tasers are legal to use in MN, save for certain weapons restrictions such as the following:
- A person must have a permit to carry before they can carry a firearm in public.
- A person is not authorized to possess a firearm or stun gun/taser if they have a prior conviction of a felony or a violent crime.
- Minors (under 21 years old) are not authorized to possess a stun gun or taser.
- It is a crime to carry a dangerous weapon on K-12 school property, even if you have a permit.
In addition, certain types of weapons are banned in Minnesota, including machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, and firearms with altered or removed serial numbers.
What is needed to prove self-defense in MN?
Self-defense is a common defense strategy in assault, domestic violence, weapons violations, manslaughter, and murder cases. But not everyone can successfully claim they were only defending themselves. Proving self-defense in Minnesota requires all of the following elements:
- The other person was the aggressor; the defendant did not provoke the attack.
- The defendant had an honest belief that the aggressor would harm them.
- There were reasonable grounds for that belief, or in other words, any reasonable person in that scenario would believe the same.
- The defendant had no opportunity to escape the danger. (This element is not required if the violence occurred in the defendant’s home.)
You will need to persuade the jury that you satisfy all the necessary elements for the use of self-defense. Once you have established these, you will also need to convince them that the force you used in self-defense was reasonable. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you assert your claim with evidence and strategic argumentation.
Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Jeff Dean
Call a competent defense lawyer for guidance and representation if you’re facing charges for a violent crime or a weapons crime and are considering a self-defense strategy.
One of Minnesota’s most active criminal defense attorneys is Jeffrey Dean. For over two decades, he has been protecting Minnesotans, obtaining dismissals, reduced charges, and Not Guilty convictions on their behalf.
Call Attorney Jeff Dean at (612) 305-4360, or fill out our online message form to get started.