Illinois Criminal Defense Blog

Monday, February 29, 2016

Does Illinois Have "Stand Your Ground" Laws?

In 2005, Florida became the first state to pass what would become known as the “Stand Your Ground” law, which effectively eliminated the “duty to retreat” component from the laws governing self-defense and the use of deadly force. Shortly thereafter, 22 additional states followed suit.

Does Illinois Have "Stand Your Ground" Laws?

Although Illinois did not specifically adopt the “Stand Your Ground” model in conjunction with the standard set by Florida state law, Article 7 of the Illinois Criminal Code includes a self-defense statute. Under Article 7, you may use “justifiable force” to defend yourself or another human being; it is not required that a person who believes themselves or others to be under physical threat first attempt to retreat from the situation before acting.

You can also use justifiable force to defend your dwelling or other property—a legal precedent commonly referred to as “Castle Doctrine.” The use of justifiable force can defeat both criminal and civil liability in the event of bodily harm or death.

But what exactly constitutes “justifiable force” under Illinois state law?

According to Article 7, two levels of force are recognized: regular, which is defined as force that incapacitates, and deadly, which implies any force that causes bodily harm or death.

In order for either type to be considered legally justified, your attorney must be able to demonstrate that you reasonably believed that the use of force was necessary to:

  • Defend yourself or another person from unlawful force
  • Prevent bodily harm or death of yourself or another person
  • Prevent a forcible felony from being committed such as sexual assault, battery, murder, robbery or arson
  • Prevent a break-in or attack on a dwelling
  • Protect property in your own or a family member’s property or household 

However, if the state can demonstrate that you were the aggressor, or that you acted unreasonably and in a manner disproportionate to the threat, the use of force would not be considered justifiable.

The key element is that any use of force, deadly or otherwise, must be deemed proportionate to the degree of threat present at the time. 

Do You Need Help in a Self-Defense Case in Chicago?

Many people in situations similar to yours choose to work with a Chicago criminal defense lawyer - and if you need help, call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online. We'll give you a free case evaluation and begin creating a strategy to help you get the best possible outcome right away.


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