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How does state law recognize self-defense?

A situation might arise in which you have to use a gun to defend yourself. It may not be pleasant to think about, yet many people find they must employ deadly force to fend off an attacker. You may wonder if Illinois law will safeguard your right to self-defense if it should come to that.

States have varying laws that address self-defense, so what is true in one state might not be true in Illinois. It may help you to understand, as FindLaw explains, what state law says about engaging in the right to defend yourself with a weapon.

Acting in personal defense

State law lays out certain situations in which you may use a weapon without fear of prosecution. If another person is about to use unlawful force against you, the law states that you may use deadly force to protect yourself. You may also use force if an assailant is about to use force against another person. The law goes on to say that you may use deadly force only if you have a reasonable belief that you or another person would suffer great bodily harm or death if you do not use force to stop it.

Acting in defense of a personal dwelling

Illinois law also addresses how you may defend your home from a break-in. The state recognizes the “castle doctrine,” which is a doctrine that gives you permission to defend your home without the need to retreat from an intruder. It is important to note that this is not a stand your ground law, which would give you the similar right to not retreat in a place that is not your home.

State law describes a scenario when someone breaks into a home in a violent or tumultuous fashion. If you have a belief that the intruder means to kill you, do harm to you or do the same to someone in the home, you have the right to use deadly force. Additionally, you may use force to prevent an intruder from committing a felony in your home like arson, rape or robbery.