Stand Your Ground / Self-Defense Laws in Kansas

Kansas is a state with sturdy stand your ground provisions in their law books. In Kansas, a defender can use whatever level of force they think is necessary to meet an equivalent threat, up to and including lethal force, to protect themselves or someone else.

Additionally, Kansas broadly asserts that a defender has no obligation to retreat under pretty much any conditions, be it from their home, their vehicle or any other place they have a lawful right to be.

flag of Kansas

This is definitely great news for citizens in Kansas, but it is not a free-for-all. Lethal force cannot be used to protect property unless that property happens to be an occupied vehicle or dwelling that an assailant is attempting to make forcible entry to.

In short, so long as the defender or a third-party that the defender is attempting to intervene on behalf of is threatened with death or great bodily harm in the use of lethal force in defense is justified.

Though Kansas has some lengthy and seemingly repetitive statutes, the law is actually quite clear and easy to understand. We will provide a summary for you below as well as the text found in the most recent statutes at the end of the article.

What You Need to Know

  • In Kansas, the use of lethal defensive force is permitted to prevent the threat of death or great bodily harm against the defender or a third party. It is also permitted as a response to the forcible entry of an occupied vehicle or dwelling.
  • Under any conditions when the use of lethal force is justified for defense there is no obligation for any defender to retreat from an assailant.
  • The justification and protections made available by the law in case lethal force is used in defense against an attack is not valid if the defender initially provoked the attack.

General Provisions

Kansas law defines the use of deadly force as the application of any physical force that is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to a person, and also includes the display or brandishing of a weapon capable of causing death or great bodily harm.

Both are permitted if someone feels that it is necessary to prevent death or severe injury to themselves or to a third party, and the latter element, that of conspicuously displaying a weapon (which does constitute lethal force), is only permitted in case the defender believes that such an action is necessary to deter or arrest the behavior of a person prepared to use unlawful force against them as described above.

Additionally, lethal force is justified when an assailant attempts to forcibly enter an occupied dwelling or other domicile, or an occupied vehicle of any kind.

Assuming that the use of lethal defensive force is justified according to the circumstances described in the state statutes no defender shall have an obligation to retreat from the situation regardless if they are defending themselves or another person.

This applies so long as they are not otherwise acting unlawfully and are in any place they have a legal right to be, but especially any dwelling, a vehicle or their place of business.

Restrictions

Lethal force is never justified if it is being used against someone else while committing a forcible felony or while escaping from the commission of a forcible felony or to prevent any law enforcement officer from pursuing their legal duties.

Additionally, lethal force may not be employed if the person using the force first provoked an encounter with the person against whom the force is going to be used.

Stated plainly, if you are already committing a crime, willfully breaking the law or behaving badly and about to incur somebody’s wrath you cannot use lethal force and claim self-defense.

Also, it is worth mentioning that lethal force may not be used against anyone who’s attempting to take custody of a child or grandchild that they have lawful custody over.

Assessment

Kansas is a state\with excellent and robust self-defense laws, including the ever-popular stand-your-ground law.

Kansas law provides justifications for the use of lethal force in self-defense against any perceived threat of death or great bodily injury, both for oneself and third parties.

The law also allows the use of lethal force against any assignment who is attempting forcible or violent entry into an occupied dwelling or occupied vehicle, i.e. a home invasion or carjacking.

So long as you are not currently committing any criminal act, or are in a place you have no lawful right to be, you will not have any duty to retreat before using lethal force in defense while in the state of Kansas.

Relevant Kansas Use of Force 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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