Course Outline

No trespassing sign on fence

Understanding when you may use lethal (deadly) force legally includes knowing how “deadly force” is defined in your area. You also should learn the laws for your area regarding self-defense, defending others, and defending property.

To know when you are allowed to use deadly force for self-defense, you should find out:

  • Your state's definition of “self-defense”
  • Whether or not you are required to retreat from a threatening situation
  • When you have the right to defend yourself
  • The situations when deadly force would be considered a necessity
  • Locations where deadly force might be allowed (such as in your home)
  • Limitations on the use of deadly force
  • Alternatives to the use of deadly force, including nonviolent dispute resolution

Learning when you are allowed to use lethal force to defend others includes knowing:

  • If the “alter-ego” rule pertaining to the amount of force a third party would use to defend himself or herself applies
  • If your relationship to the other person affects whether deadly force is allowed

Before you use lethal force to defend property, you should know:

  • Which areas are included as property—home, business, vehicle
  • If a protective/restraining order must be in effect
  • What circumstances would justify the use of deadly force
  • If the laws vary for different types of property
  • Any exceptions to the laws
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