You likely cannot foresee any scenario where another reasonable person in Mississippi might view your actions as criminal. At the same time, however, you recognize that there are situations in which you may feel compelled to react to another’s aggression or a threat with force in a way that is likely to cause harm to the person posing the threat.

This obviously prompts the question of when and where might the law justify defensive action. Understanding the answer to this question requires a comprehension of two unique legal principles: “Stand Your Ground” and “the Castle Doctrine.”

Responding to a threat with force

The latter principle follows the adage that your home is your castle, and as such, you can defend it from unlawful entry (or from attempts to forcibly remove you or another from it). “Stand Your Ground” absolves you of the duty to retreat from any scenario in which another person threatens your safety. Section 97-3-15 of Mississippi’s state statutes shows that the state subscribes to the Castle Doctrine. Indeed, the law says that you can use force (even deadly force) when you have a reasonable fear of suffering injury or being the victim of a crime at the hands of another. The presumption of such a fear exists if that scenario plays out in your home, your vehicle or your place of employment.

Exceptions to the Castle Doctrine

There are certain exceptions to the application of the Castle Doctrine. For example, you cannot use force against a police officer or public servant attempting to execute their duties (even if you disagree with the validity of their reasons for acting against you). You also cannot act against one who has a lawful right to be in the location you claim to be defending.