Castle Doctrine Law – Kansas

Kansas possesses well-rounded and easily understood laws concerning self-defense, including a clear and concise castle doctrine provision.

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So long as any person who is occupying their dwelling, place of business or vehicle reasonably believes that they are someone else might suffer death or great bodily injury at the hands of an attacker then the use of deadly force in self-defense is justified with no obligation to retreat or attempt a retreat.

It really is that clear-cut in the Kansas State statutes, but as you might expect there’s always more to know about the intricacies of castle doctrine law, particularly where lethal force is being discussed.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about castle doctrine law in Kansas and make sure you read up on the exact verbiage of the state statutes at the end.

Fast Facts

  • Defenders may use lethal force in defense of themselves or someone else when they are attacked while occupying a dwelling, place of business or vehicle.
  • In any such instance listed above, the defender must have a reasonable fear that they or another occupant could suffer death or great bodily injury because of the attacker’s actions.
  • In any such case, so long as a defender has a reasonable belief that they or someone else will suffer death or great bodily injury there is no legal obligation to retreat or to attempt a retreat.

Overview of Castle Doctrine Law in Kansas

Kansas law is quite straightforward regarding its castle doctrine statute.

Simply, any person who’s occupying a dwelling, place of business or vehicle has the right to defend themselves or someone else from an attacker if they hold a reasonable belief that they or the other party could suffer death or great bodily injury due to the unlawful use of force by the attacker.

Additionally, no defender has any legal obligation to the state to retreat or to attempt retreat prior to using lethal force in defense if otherwise justified under the law.

Furthermore, any defender is presumed to have been acting under the reasonable belief they will suffer death or great bodily injury if the attacker was, at the time the defensive force was used, was unlawfully or forcefully entering or had already entered the dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle, or was attempting to remove any person from the premises or the vehicle using force.

What this means is that defenders in Kansas need not wait for a forcible entry to have actually occurred prior to resorting to lethal force in self-defense.

If someone is attempting to carjack you or someone in the car with you or is in the process of forcibly entering your home, lethal force is justified in defense right then and there.

However, as always the onus is on the defender to clearly articulate their perceptions. You don’t want to make it a point to resort to force, particularly lethal force, just because someone is next to your car and acting belligerent or is banging on your door.

You must be sure of the situation before you act, but so long as you are sure and right, the law will back you up in Kansas.

Restrictions

Lethal force is never justified in defense if the person using it, and claiming self-defense, was in the process of committing any other crime, in any place they did not have a lawful right to be or is responsible for provoking the encounter in the first place.

Also, lethal force may never be used against anyone who is lawfully taking possession or custody of a child, grandchild, dependent, or ward.

Although not a consideration for everyone, those who are dealing with unstable or violent exes, or have lost custody of their children, might on occasion find themselves in a situation where tempers are running high and people act with the conviction that they are right and lawful.

In such cases, it is imperative that you understand exactly where such rights begin and end, and what the law says regarding those situations. Acting rashly or impudently could see you charged with murder.

Assessment

Kansas possesses a roundly excellent version of castle doctrine law. Citizens in Kansas may use lethal force in defense of themselves or someone else to defend any occupied dwelling, place of business or vehicle from a violent attacker so long as they have a reasonable belief that death or great bodily injury may result from the attacker’s actions.

Defenders in such circumstances have no obligation to the state to retreat or attempt to retreat before resorting to the use of force and self-defense, including lethal force.

Relevant Kansas Castle Doctrine Statutes

21-5220. Use of force; construction and application.

The provisions of K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5220 through 21-5230, and amendments thereto, are to be construed and applied retroactively.


21-5221. Use of force; definitions.

(a) As used in article 32 of chapter 21 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated, prior to their repeal, K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5202 through 21-5208, 21-5210 through 21-5212, and 21-5220 through 21-5231, and K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-3212a, 21-3220 and 21-3221, and amendments thereto:

(1) “Use of force” means any or all of the following directed at or upon another person or thing: (A) Words or actions that reasonably convey the threat of force, including threats to cause death or great bodily harm to a person; (B) the presentation or display of the means of force; or (C) the application of physical force, including by a weapon or through the actions of another.

(2) “Use of deadly force” means the application of any physical force described in paragraph (1) which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to a person. Any threat to cause death or great bodily harm, including, but not limited to, by the display or production of a weapon, shall not constitute use of deadly force, so long as the actor’s purpose is limited to creating an apprehension that the actor will, if necessary, use deadly force in defense of such actor or another or to affect a lawful arrest.

(b) An actor who threatens deadly force as described in subsection (a)(1) shall be subject to the determination in subsection (a) of K.S.A. 21-3211, prior to its repeal, or subsection (a) of K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5222, and amendments thereto, and not to the determination in subsection (b) of K.S.A. 21-3211, prior to its repeal, or subsection (b) of K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5222, and amendments thereto.


21-5222. Same; defense of a person; no duty to retreat.

(a) A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent it appears to such person and such person reasonably believes that such use of force is necessary to defend such person or a third person against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.

(b) A person is justified in the use of deadly force under circumstances described in subsection (a) if such person reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to such person or a third person.

(c) Nothing in this section shall require a person to retreat if such person is using force to protect such person or a third person.


21-5223. Same; defense of dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle; no duty to retreat.

(a) A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that it appears to such person and such person reasonably believes that such use of force is necessary to prevent or terminate such other’s unlawful entry into or attack upon such person’s dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle.

(b) A person is justified in the use of deadly force to prevent or terminate unlawful entry into or attack upon any dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle if such person reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to such person or another.

(c) Nothing in this section shall require a person to retreat if such person is using force to protect such person’s dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle.


21-5224. Use of force; presumptions.
(a) For the purposes of K.S.A. 21-3211 and 21-3212, prior to their repeal, or K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5222 and 21-5223, and amendments thereto, a person is presumed to have a reasonable belief that deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to such person or another person if:

(1) The person against whom the force is used, at the time the force is used:

(A) Is unlawfully or forcefully entering, or has unlawfully or forcefully entered, and is present within, the dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle of the person using force; or

(B) has removed or is attempting to remove another person against such other person’s will from the dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle of the person using force; and

(2) the person using force knows or has reason to believe that any of the conditions set forth in paragraph (1) is occurring or has occurred.

(b) The presumption set forth in subsection (a) does not apply if, at the time the force is used:

(1) The person against whom the force is used has a right to be in, or is a lawful resident of, the dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle of the person using force, and is not subject to any order listed in K.S.A. 21-3843, prior to its repeal, or K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5924, and amendments thereto, that would prohibit such person’s presence in the property;

(2) the person sought to be removed is a child, grandchild or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of the person against whom the force is used;

(3) the person using force is engaged in the commission of a crime, attempting to escape from a location where a crime has been committed, or is using the dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle to further the commission of a crime; or

(4) the person against whom the force is used is a law enforcement officer who has entered or is attempting to enter a dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle in the lawful performance of such officer’s lawful duties, and the person using force knows or reasonably should know that the person who has entered or is attempting to enter is a law enforcement officer.


21-5225. Same; defense of property other than a dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle.

A person who is lawfully in possession of property other than a dwelling, place of work or occupied vehicle is justified in the use of force against another for the purpose of preventing or terminating an unlawful interference with such property. Only such use of force as a reasonable person would deem necessary to prevent or terminate the interference may intentionally be used.


21-5226. Same; by an aggressor.

The justification described in K.S.A. 21-3211, 21-3212 and 21-3213, prior to their repeal, or K.S.A. 2019 Supp. 21-5222, 21-5223 and 21-5225, and amendments thereto, is not available to a person who:

(a) Is attempting to commit, committing or escaping from the commission of a forcible felony;

(b) initially provokes the use of any force against such person or another, with intent to use such force as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant; or

(c) otherwise initially provokes the use of any force against such person or another, unless:

(1) Such person has reasonable grounds to believe that such person is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm, and has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of deadly force; or

(2) in good faith, such person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that such person desires to withdraw and terminate the use of such force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of such force.

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