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In Minnesota, if you are facing a threat of imminent bodily harm or injury, in certain circumstances, you have a right to use force to defend yourself.

Minnesota self-defense laws describe the conditions in which you can lawfully use force in self-defense. Knowing self-defense laws can help you understand your rights and responsibilities. 

Minnesota Self-Defense Laws

Self-defense is one of the most commonly used defenses in cases involving assault, battery, or other crimes of violence.

To prove self-defense in Minnesota, an accused person must show:

  • The alleged victim was the aggressor,
  • The accused person had a real or perceived fear of harm to their person,
  • The accused person’s belief was reasonable,
  • The accused person did not use aggression or provoke the attack, and
  • There was no reasonable opportunity to retreat or escape.

A claim of self-defense has some important limitations. A person’s use of force in self-defense must appear reasonable to a judge or jury. Further, a person may use only the amount of force necessary to prevent the attack or to protect themselves from harm. The amount of force used in self-defense must be proportionate to the threat posed by the victim.

Duty to Retreat

Before a person can use self-defense outside of their own home, Minnesota law imposes a duty to retreat. 

If a person is facing a threat of bodily injury or harm, he or she must first attempt to retreat to a safe location. The concept of retreat includes any attempt to de-escalate or otherwise avoid violent confrontation. However, if retreat is not available or the person cannot do so safely, he or she may then use force or otherwise act in self-defense.

In addition, Minnesota allows a person to use deadly force only as a last resort. You may use deadly force outside the home only if there is no reasonable opportunity to retreat and you reasonably believe that you face imminent danger of great bodily harm. A person who uses deadly force in self-defense may still face criminal charges, including murder, if he or she had an opportunity to retreat. 

No Stand-Your-Ground Law in Minnesota

Stand-your-ground laws remove the duty to retreat. If a state has a stand-your-ground law, a person may use force, including deadly force, without first attempting to retreat from the danger.

Unlike many other states, Minnesota does not have a stand-your-ground law. In Minnesota, a person must first attempt to escape a dangerous threat before resorting to force. 

Castle Doctrine

 Although Minnesota does not have a stand-your-ground law, the state still applies the castle doctrine. 

This doctrine removes the duty to retreat if a person is threatened in his or her own home. Minnesota courts have decided that a person should not be required to retreat from his or her own home. Thus, in certain circumstances, you may use force, including deadly force, in self-defense when threatened in your own home.

The castle doctrine, like other forms of self-defense, is available only in certain circumstances and is subject to limitations.

When to Contact a Lawyer

If you are accused of a crime or were involved in a violent confrontation, you should contact a qualified attorney to represent you.

Self-defense laws depend on a variety of circumstances and a complex set of rules and legal definitions. Understanding self-defense laws requires experience and familiarity with the criminal justice system. Cases involving self-defense often deal with serious crimes that carry potentially severe consequences. Even if you have a legitimate self-defense claim, if you fail to meet the legal requirements and provide sufficient evidence, you risk losing your case.

Hiring a criminal defense attorney will improve your chances of establishing self-defense and winning your case.  

Contact a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are facing criminal charges or were involved in a violent confrontation, contact the law firm of Arechigo & Stokka, P.A., today. Our dedicated team has extensive experience defending our clients in criminal cases.

We will thoroughly investigate your case, help you understand your legal options, and determine the best course of action. We know how difficult this process can be, and we will support you every step of the way. For a free consultation, call our offices at 651-222-6603 or fill out an online form today.  

Author Photo

John T. Arechigo, Esq.

Attorney John Arechigo has a passion for criminal defense.  He devotes nearly 100% of his practice to defending individuals charged with a crime. John offers what very few other Twin Cities criminal defense lawyers can offer. His combination of experience, success, connections, resources, accessibility, and complete handling of a client’s file sets him apart from his colleagues.

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