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Self-defense or duty-to-retreat: What are the rules in Illinois?

| Mar 3, 2021 | Injuries | 0 comments

You hope it will never happen, but there are times when you need to defend yourself, your property or a loved one. While you hope that you will be found to have acted appropriately in the circumstance, that is not always the case.

In some states, you are permitted to “stand your ground” and defend yourself. In Illinois, the law can be unclear when you have the right to protect yourself.

Here’s what you should know about self-defense in Illinois.

Castle law

Laws that protect your right to protect your home are known as “castle laws” since the owner (or rightful tenant) should be able to use reasonable force to protect where they live without a requirement to flee.

Illinois typically protects a person’s right to defend their home, though simple trespassing generally is not enough. In most cases, to fall under the state’s self-defense guidelines, there must be a reason to believe the person is a threat, aside from being on the property.

Do I have to retreat?

Like many situations in law, the answer is, “it depends.” In cases where you are in your home, and someone has broken in, there is no expectation that you will seek safety elsewhere.

While Illinois does not have a “stand your ground” law on the books, homeowners are typically protected when someone threatens their safety in their home. Often, when evaluating whether a person used “reasonable force” in a self-defense situation, courts will look to the amount of force the aggressor used as a benchmark for what is reasonable.