Mississippi law: Castle Doctrine vs Stand Your Ground

MISSISSIPPI (WCBI) – There are two state laws designed to protect you, by allowing you to protect yourself.

“The castle doctrine is all about your right to protect your home or your car or any place that you have ownership of. Stand your ground is all about you don’t have to run from a fight,” said Lowndes County Public Defender Donna Smith.

Both statutes are adopted as Mississippi law.

“The castle doctrine allows you to protect yourself using force, deadly force if you’re in imminent fear of death or reasonable body injury. It creates a presumption that the perpetrator is there illegally and that you can defend yourself, your home, your business, your occupied vehicle, and some other places that are mentioned in the statute,” said Smith.

Stand Your Ground allows you to protect yourself by the same means but in a public space. The defendant can not be the aggressor and can not be participating in any illegal activities while the confrontation takes place.

Smith said either defense is rebuttable.

“If the prosecutor can still prove you are not in that fear, then you can still be convicted even though you’ve raised Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground,” said Smith.

Scott Colom is the District Attorney for the 16th Judicial District of Mississippi.

Colom said you can’t kill someone on your property or in your home if they have retreated.

“Once a person retreats, at that point you do not have a reasonable ground of need to use force. So if a person retreats and it’s clear that they’ve retreated and they’re no longer a threat to you, then your ability to claim self-defense diminishes,” said Colom.

As a reminder for any citizen who chooses to bear arms…

“If you are in a conflict with someone and you decide to exhibit a gun, you need to be prepared that that could have serious consequences for your life because that person doesn’t have to wait and see what you’re going to do with that gun once you exhibit it,” said Colom.

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