Does Illinois Law Protect My Right to Shoot in Self-Defense?

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Illinois does not have a “Stand Your Ground” or “Castle Doctrine” law, nor does it have a “Duty to Retreat” law. Instead, Illinois has a “Justifiable Use of Force” law, 750 ILCS 5/7, passed in 2004. Of particular importance to Concealed Carry License (CCL) holders and other firearms owners in Illinois, this law defines when you can use “reasonable force” versus “deadly force” in a self-defense situation.

Illinois Law on Self-Defense and Defense of Other People

The Illinois Use of Force in Defense of Person statute (750 ILCS 5/7-1) provides the following guidelines:

• You can fight back with equivalent force if you reasonably believe that you or another person is about to be unlawfully attacked. For example, if an attacker comes at you with a knife, you can strike back with any heavy or sharp object available to you or wield a chair or other large object as a shield;

• You can use deadly force if you reasonably believe you or another person is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm; and

• You can use deadly force to prevent or stop the commission of a forcible felony such as rape or murder.

If, in an act of justifiable self-defense, you wound or kill the attacker, neither the attacker nor their family can sue you for personal injury or wrongful death.

Illinois Law on Defense of Your Home

The Illinois Use of Force in Defense of Dwelling statute (750 ILCS 5/7-2) provides the following guidelines:

• You can use reasonable force to stop someone who is trying to break into your home or the home of another person;

• You can use deadly force if the trespass is made in a violent manner, perhaps involving multiple trespassers, and you reasonably believe that the trespasser(s) will physically attack you or another person in the home; and

• You can use deadly force if you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent the commission of a felony in the home. (Notice that this does not specify a “forcible” felony.)

Definition of Deadly Force in Illinois

“Deadly force” means a level of force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm. If you fire a gun toward an attacker, even if you do not hit them, that is deadly force. If you carefully fire the gun in a manner that is very unlikely to cause harm, intending simply to frighten the attacker and make them aware that you are armed, that is not deadly force.

“Great bodily harm” is not specifically defined in Illinois law but, based on past appellate court rulings, can roughly be defined as injuries that are severe enough to significantly impair a person’s physical function and that warrant immediate treatment by a doctor.

Joliet Firearms Defense Lawyer

Even someone who has clearly acted in self-defense will be questioned and potentially detained until the incident has been fully investigated. If this happens to you, you have the right to consult with a Will County firearms defense lawyer before making any statements. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba will ensure that your constitutional rights are protected and provide an aggressive defense against any criminal charges that may be lodged against you. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation. We take calls around the clock.