Criminal Defense

Is California Considered a Stand Your Ground State?

When people hear the term “Stand Your Ground,” they often picture a homeowner defending themselves from intruders, using force if necessary. While California laws do not expressly authorize a person’s right to stand their ground and protect themselves without retreating, self-defense laws provide some guidance as to whether a person may lawfully use force to defend themselves or others from imminent danger. Below is a brief overview of California’s self-defense laws and how they may affect any criminal charges against you.

California’s Self-Defense Laws

While California laws do not address a person’s legal right to stand their ground, existing self-defense laws allow you to use force against another person if you have a reasonable fear of imminent danger. California Penal Code, Section 198.5 states, “Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully or forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe than an unlawful and forcible entry occurred.” This language can be used to justify using force against someone who has unlawfully entered your home and has caused you to fear for your physical safety.

The Use of Deadly Force to Defend Yourself

In some cases, you may use deadly force to defend yourself, others, or property from imminent harm. As long as you can show that you had a reasonable fear of the other person causing you imminent bodily harm or death, the situation may be considered a justifiable homicide. California jury instruction CALCRIM 505 clarifies, “A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of [death/great bodily injury] has passed.” Any force you use against an assailant or perpetrator must be proportional to the force or threat of force used against you.

Quality Legal Representation Throughout Los Angeles County

If you used force to defend yourself or another person from imminent harm, you might still face criminal charges for your actions. Even if you know you acted reasonably and justifiably, you should contact an experienced Los Angeles County criminal defense lawyer right away to discuss your situation. Together, you can navigate the process more smoothly and work to keep your future as bright as possible.


Call Wegman & Levin today at (818) 980-4000 to schedule a free consultation with a trusted and dedicated Los Angeles County criminal defense attorney.

Michael M. Levin, Esq.

Michael M. Levin, Esq.

Michael M. Levin is an experienced attorney who has been in private practice as a criminal defense lawyer for over 25 years. He has conducted numerous jury trials in cases ranging from DUI to capital murder. Read More