Georgia Self-Defense Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

The right to defend ourselves against death or injury is one of the most basic legal protections that we have. The self-defense laws of every state allow citizens the right to use force to protect their lives, the lives of others, and sometimes property, without the fear of being punished for actions that are normally considered criminal. Although society generally supports this basic principle, it's not without controversy, especially regarding stand your ground laws.

Stand Your Ground Laws in Georgia

Georgia is one of the states that have stand your ground laws. The basic idea behind these laws is that a person who is being threatened by another person's use of force does not have a duty to retreat or back down before he or she can legally use force against the attacker. Unlike the laws in some states which only allow this behavior in restricted areas such as your home or your car, Georgia's law makes no distinction regarding locations. As long as the person reasonably believes that the force used is necessary to defend himself or herself or another person, then the use of force is justified. This subjective standard helps to contribute to the confusion of how these laws are applied in specific situations.

Georgia Self-Defense Laws at a Glance

The chart below provides a summary of laws related to Georgia's self-defense laws, including links to important code sections.

Statute

Justifiable Use of Force

  • You can use force when you reasonably believe that the force is necessary in order to protect yourself or a third party against another person's imminent use of unlawful force.
  • The scope of the force that you can use depends on whether you reasonably believe that the type of force is necessary to defend yourself or a third party.
  • You may use deadly force only if you reasonably believe that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to you, or to another, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

When the Use of Deadly Force is Not Justified

  • If you're the initial aggressor
  • You're committing, attempting to commit, or leaving after you have committed/attempted a felony

Related Defense

  • Use of force in defense of property other than a habitation: Georgia Code Section 16-3-24

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Georgia Self-Defense Laws: Related Resources

Discuss Your Self-Defense Case with a Georgia Attorney

If you plan to use Georgia's self-defense laws to bolster your case, then you should consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can determine the evidence needed to make your case. Get started by talking to a local Georgia attorney today.

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