It’s 2 a.m., and you awaken to the unmistakable sound of glass breaking. Your heart thumping wildly, you reach for your gun and head down the hallway just in time to see an intruder climbing through a bathroom window.

Time seems to stand still as your mind races with questions. Is the intruder armed? Should I shoot him? If I do, could I go to prison? What are my rights?

The U.S. Constitution’s second amendment states that “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” However, federal and state gun laws that regulate the right to own and use firearms in the U.S. can make things complicated and sometimes difficult to understand.

No one wants to be in this situation, but you need to be prepared if you are. As a Kentucky resident, you should be aware of the laws in your state and how they relate to your right to defend yourself and your property. 

And, if you’re charged with a crime of assault or homicide, it is imperative to contact an experienced Louisville criminal defense attorney right away. Call Suhre & Associates, LLC, to learn more with a free consultation.

What Are the Self-Defense Laws in Kentucky?

There are two different types of general self-defense laws – one that applies when you are on your own property and one that applies when you are attacked somewhere else. Kentucky has both laws in effect.

According to Kentucky’s self-defense law, which was amended in 2006, any person who uses a gun in self-defense has immunity from criminal and civil law. 

That means that, both at home and away from home, Kentucky law allows the use of deadly force when you believe “such force is necessary to protect yourself from death, serious physical injury, kidnapping, sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat, or felony involving threat.”

What is the Castle Doctrine in Kentucky?

The Castle Doctrine has its roots in old English Common Law, a body of unwritten laws based on legal precedents that were established by the courts. According to the doctrine, your home is your castle, and you have the right to defend it from intruders.

Most states have a variation of the Castle Doctrine in their self-defense laws. The differences between state laws involve whether there is a duty to retreat or if deadly force was necessary. For example, some states rely on the courts to determine if the intruder intended to inflict serious bodily injury.

Under changes made to Kentucky law in 2006, a resident can almost always assume that the person breaking into their home means to cause harm. The law gives the resident the presumptive right to use or physical force or deadly physical force to repel any attacker or intruder.

The Castle Doctrine legally protects you in Kentucky under these circumstances.

  • There was a forceful and unlawful entry into your home, business, or occupied vehicle.
  • You were not the original aggressor.
  • You were not engaged in criminal activity.
  • You have a legal right to be where you are.

Additionally, if your situation meets these requirements, you have “no duty to retreat” under Kentucky law. Duty to retreat is the legal principle that would require you to back away from a threatening situation rather than use self-defense by deadly force.

What is the Stand Your Ground law in Kentucky?

Kentucky also has the “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law. This law allows you to protect yourself “against the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by the other person” in other locations other than your home, vehicle, or business property.

Some states require that you must “retreat to safety,” if possible, before using force. However, Kentucky’s Stand Your Ground law removes that duty and allows you to use force, including deadly force, without making an attempt to flee under these circumstances.

  • You have a legal right to be where you are.
  • You have reason to believe it is necessary to use force to prevent death or great bodily harm to yourself or someone else.
  • You have reason to believe it is necessary to prevent the commission of a felony involving the use of force.

Now, let’s get back to that 2 a.m. intruder example. 

What Happens if I Shoot Someone on My Property?

Under Kentucky law, you can legally assume that someone breaking into your home has an intent to cause you harm. Therefore, you have the legal right to defend yourself and your family from this intrusion.

If you shoot an intruder in your home, you need to immediately contact the police to report the incident. 

Then contact an experienced Louisville criminal defense lawyer at Suhre & Associates, LLC.  Under state law, you will need to prove that you acted in self-defense, and your attorney will guide you through this legal process. Refrain from answering police questions or making a statement to the police until you have spoken with your attorney.