Louisiana is a good state when it comes to citizens’ rights, especially rights pertaining to self-defense in the gravest extreme. Joining at least half the nation, Louisiana has codified among its state statutes a staunchly worded “stand your ground” provision.
if you are unfamiliar, stand your ground is a colloquialism in self-defense law describing a concept whereby a defender or potential victim has no legal obligation to retreat from a threat (and thereby risking greater harm) so long as they are not committing any crime, and are in a place where they legally and lawfully have a right to be.
Louisiana’s law is clearly worded, plainly stated, and easy to understand for almost anyone. I will provide you with all the relevant details and the exact text of the state statute in this article.
What You Need to Know
- Louisiana law clearly states that one may use lethal force with no duty to retreat in self-defense to prevent death or great bodily harm if one is not otherwise committing a crime, and is in their home, place of business or occupied vehicle.
- Louisiana also allows lethal force in defense to prevent forcible felonies like burglary and robbery so long as a “reasonable person” standard is applied.
- Louisiana law does allow one to use lethal force in defense of another, but this must be done with the greatest possible prudence as that subsection is not worded quite as strongly as the remainder.
Louisiana law that covers the use of lethal force in self-defense somewhat unsettlingly refers to it as “justifiable homicide”.
Regardless of this grim appellation, the law is very clear and that one may use lethal force in defense of one’s own life or well-being so long as they have a reasonable suspicion that they are facing an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm.
The state also makes very clear that lethal force may be used to stop the commission of a forcible felony so long as a reasonable person would believe that lethal force is the only thing that will stop the commission of said crime.
You will find the “reasonable person standard” throughout Louisiana state law covering self-defense.
This is a legal conceit whereby the court will look at the totality of the evidence including the likelihood and severity of harm resulting from action, what information and potential consequences could have been known by the actor at the time, and other standards.
Essentially it looks to establish what a normal, common and reasonable person what do under the same circumstances and judge the actions taken by the defendant accordingly. Additionally, Louisiana makes no distinction in the use of force in self-defense in an occupied vehicle compared to a dwelling or business.
So long as a person is in any place they have a right to be, they have no duty to retreat in the eyes of the law, and they go a step further beyond the typical SYG laws of other states, and declare in their own statutes that no finder of fact can assess whether or not retreat was even possible as a factor in the defender’s choice to use lethal force or not.
Armed citizens are cautioned that the state statutes in Louisiana regarding lethal force in defense of others are not quite as vociferously worded as the ones concerning use of force in defense of self or dwelling.
One should as always exercise the uttermost caution and care before deciding force is necessary to save someone else from death, or great bodily harm.
Louisiana stands as another excellent exemplar of citizens’ rights of self defense, with succinct and clearly worded statutes that codify defensive use of force including lethal force in the affirmative for all citizens.
Louisiana stand your ground law is acceptable, comprehensive and easily understood in all regards.
Relevant Louisiana Use of Force Statutes
Louisiana Revised Statutes Tit. 14, § 20. Justifiable homicide
A. A homicide is justifiable:
(1) When committed in self-defense by one who reasonably believes that he is in imminent danger of losing his life or receiving great bodily harm and that the killing is necessary to save himself from that danger.
(2) When committed for the purpose of preventing a violent or forcible felony involving danger to life or of great bodily harm by one who reasonably believes that such an offense is about to be committed and that such action is necessary for its prevention. The circumstances must be sufficient to excite the fear of a reasonable person that there would be serious danger to his own life or person if he attempted to prevent the felony without the killing.
(3) When committed against a person whom one reasonably believes to be likely to use any unlawful force against a person present in a dwelling or a place of business, or when committed against a person whom one reasonably believes is attempting to use any unlawful force against a person present in a motor vehicle as defined in R.S. 32:1(40) , while committing or attempting to commit a burglary or robbery of such dwelling, business, or motor vehicle.
(4)(a) When committed by a person lawfully inside a dwelling, a place of business, or a motor vehicle as defined in R.S. 32:1(40) when the conflict began, against a person who is attempting to make an unlawful entry into the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle, or who has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle, and the person committing the homicide reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the entry or to compel the intruder to leave the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle.
(b) The provisions of this Paragraph shall not apply when the person committing the homicide is engaged, at the time of the homicide, in the acquisition of, the distribution of, or possession of, with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance in violation of the provisions of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law.
B. For the purposes of this Section, there shall be a presumption that a person lawfully inside a dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle held a reasonable belief that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent unlawful entry thereto, or to compel an unlawful intruder to leave the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle when the conflict began, if both of the following occur:
(1) The person against whom deadly force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering or had unlawfully and forcibly entered the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle.
(2) The person who used deadly force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry was occurring or had occurred.
C. A person who is not engaged in unlawful activity and who is in a place where he or she has a right to be shall have no duty to retreat before using deadly force as provided for in this Section, and may stand his or her ground and meet force with force.
D. No finder of fact shall be permitted to consider the possibility of retreat as a factor in determining whether or not the person who used deadly force had a reasonable belief that deadly force was reasonable and apparently necessary to prevent a violent or forcible felony involving life or great bodily harm or to prevent the unlawful entry.
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