Georgia Castle Doctrine
The laws governing the legal use, storage, carrying and transporting of firearms are constantly changing. Below are the applicable laws in the State of Georgia as of 8/7/2013. The below information is designed to be a guide and not the final word. If you have specific questions, please refer to Georgia legislation at lexisnexis.com. If you have any specific questions concerning Castle Doctrine/Self-Defense laws in any state, American Firearms Training recommends contacting an attorney.
The Castle Doctrine (also known as Castle Law, Defense of Habitat Law) are state legal defense laws that gives citizens in their homes/abode, and in some states, cars or workplaces the right to protect themselves, other people, and their property by force. In some instances this includes deadly force without the consequences of legal or possibly civil responsibility and criminal persecution. A Castle Doctrine also states that a person has no “duty of retreat” (avoid the conflict at all cost) when one’s home/abode is under attack.
Some states will include in there Castle Law a “Stand Your Ground” clause. This clause removes the “duty of retreat” even outside of one’s home (car, work, where one is allowed to possess a firearm).
The State of Georgia has a Castle Law with a "Stand Your Ground" variation. These laws and other defense of person and property laws can be viewed below.
§ 16-3-20. Justification
The fact that a person's conduct is justified is a defense to prosecution for any crime based on that conduct. The defense of justification can be claimed:
(1) When the person's conduct is justified under Code Section 16-3-21, 16-3-23, 16-3-24, 16-3-25, or 16-3-26;
(2) When the person's conduct is in reasonable fulfillment of his duties as a government officer or employee;
(3) When the person's conduct is the reasonable discipline of a minor by his parent or a person in loco parentis;
(4) When the person's conduct is reasonable and is performed in the course of making a lawful arrest;
(5) When the person's conduct is justified for any other reason under the laws of this state; or
(6) In all other instances which stand upon the same footing of reason and justice as those enumerated in this article.
§ 16-3-21. Use of force in defense of self or others; evidence of belief that force was necessary in murder or manslaughter prosecution
(a) A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person against such other's imminent use of unlawful force; however, except as provided in Code Section 16-3-23, a person is justified in using force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or herself or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
(b) A person is not justified in using force under the circumstances specified in subsection (a) of this Code section if he:
(1) Initially provokes the use of force against himself with the intent to use such force as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant;
(2) Is attempting to commit, committing, or fleeing after the commission or attempted commission of a felony; or
(3) Was the aggressor or was engaged in a combat by agreement unless he withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to such other person his intent to do so and the other, notwithstanding, continues or threatens to continue the use of unlawful force.
(c) Any rule, regulation, or policy of any agency of the state or any ordinance, resolution, rule, regulation, or policy of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state which is in conflict with this Code section shall be null, void, and of no force and effect.
(d) In a prosecution for murder or manslaughter, if a defendant raises as a defense a justification provided by subsection (a) of this Code section, the defendant, in order to establish the defendant's reasonable belief that the use of force or deadly force was immediately necessary, may be permitted to offer:
(1) Relevant evidence that the defendant had been the victim of acts of family violence or child abuse committed by the deceased, as such acts are described in Code Sections 19-13-1 and 19-15-1, respectively; and
(2) Relevant expert testimony regarding the condition of the mind of the defendant at the time of the offense, including those relevant facts and circumstances relating to the family violence or child abuse that are the bases of the expert's opinion.
§ 16-3-22. Immunity from criminal liability of persons rendering assistance to law enforcement officers
(a) Any person who renders assistance reasonably and in good faith to any law enforcement officer who is being hindered in the performance of his official duties or whose life is being endangered by the conduct of any other person or persons while performing his official duties shall be immune to the same extent as the law enforcement officer from any criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of rendering assistance to the law enforcement officer.
(b) The official report of the law enforcement agency shall create a rebuttable presumption of good faith and reasonableness on the part of the person who assists the law enforcement officer.
(c) The purpose of this Code section is to provide for those persons who act in good faith to assist law enforcement officers whose health and safety is being adversely affected and threatened by the conduct of any other person or persons. This Code section shall be liberally construed so as to carry out the purposes thereof.
§ 16-3-23. Use of force in defense of habitation
A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he or she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to prevent or terminate such other's unlawful entry into or attack upon a habitation; however, such person is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if:
(1) The entry is made or attempted in a violent and tumultuous manner and he or she reasonably believes that the entry is attempted or made for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person dwelling or being therein and that such force is necessary to prevent the assault or offer of personal violence;
(2) That force is used against another person who is not a member of the family or household and who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using such force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred; or
(3) The person using such force reasonably believes that the entry is made or attempted for the purpose of committing a felony therein and that such force is necessary to prevent the commission of the felony.
§ 16-3-23.1. No duty to retreat prior to use of force in self-defense
A person who uses threats or force in accordance with Code Section 16-3-21, relating to the use of force in defense of self or others, Code Section 16-3-23, relating to the use of force in defense of a habitation, or Code Section 16-3-24, relating to the use of force in defense of property other than a habitation, has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use force as provided in said Code sections, including deadly force.
§ 16-3-24. Use of force in defense of property other than a habitation
(a) A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to prevent or terminate such other's trespass on or other tortious or criminal interference with real property other than a habitation or personal property:
(1) Lawfully in his possession;
(2) Lawfully in the possession of a member of his immediate family; or
(3) Belonging to a person whose property he has a legal duty to protect.
(b) The use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to prevent trespass on or other tortious or criminal interference with real property other than a habitation or personal property is not justified unless the person using such force reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
§ 16-3-24.1. Habitation and personal property defined
As used in Code Sections 16-3-23 and 16-3-24, the term "habitation" means any dwelling, motor vehicle, or place of business, and "personal property" means personal property other than a motor vehicle.
§ 16-3-24.2. Immunity from prosecution; exception
A person who uses threats or force in accordance with Code Section 16-3-21, 16-3-23, 16-3-23.1, or 16-3-24 shall be immune from criminal prosecution therefor unless in the use of deadly force, such person utilizes a weapon the carrying or possession of which is unlawful by such person under Part 2 or 3 of Article 4 of Chapter 11 of this title.