A look at Kentucky’s self-defense laws in wake of Lexington shooting
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington police say they are investigating an attempted break-in that sparked a shooting.
Officers went out to the 3800 block of Nicholasville Road around 1:30 Friday morning for reports of a man getting shot. When they got to the scene, the person had run away.
Officers believe he was shot when he tried to force his way into an apartment. They found him an hour later at a local hospital where he’s recovering and criminal charges are expected against him.
The person who shot him will likely not face charges because Kentucky state law says a person can use physical force against another person if they believe it’s necessary to protect themself. In some cases, state law even allows for the use of deadly physical force.
“For hundreds of years, the law has always allowed a person to defend themselves in their home. That’s known as the castle doctrine,” said Allison Anderman, senior counsel and director of local policy at Giffords Law Center.
Kentucky is a castle doctrine state and, additionally, Kentucky has what’s called a stand-your-ground law.
The law says the use of physical force upon another person is justifiable when the defendant believes such force is necessary to protect himself against the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force.
The use of deadly physical force is justifiable when the defendant believes it is necessary to protect himself against death, serious physical injury, kidnapping, sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat or felony involving the use of force.
“Kentucky is on the more extreme end of the spectrum because they have a law that makes it harder for law enforcement to investigate cases in which someone has shot another person or killed another person if they claim that they acted in self-defense, then law enforcement is limited in their ability to arrest them,” said Anderman.
According to Kentucky state law, a person who uses force, and is justified, is immune from prosecution and civil action. However, law enforcement may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force.
“While that may seem reasonable on its face, that actually does heighten the standard for arrest in some self-defense cases and makes it more difficult to arrest someone once they claim self-defense,” said Anderman.
Some states have what’s called “duty to retreat” laws. In those states, even if an individual is entitled to use force, if they are able to leave the conflict safely, they must do so.
In Kentucky, the law states a person does not have a duty to retreat prior to the use of force and that does include deadly physical force.
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