Detailing Missouri’s self-defense laws

August 4, 2022
Detailing Missouri’s self-defense laws

It may be easy for people in Springfield to dismiss claims of self-defense made by people accused of committing violent crimes. This likely comes from the assumption that it is relatively easy to avoid situations where a person legitimately feels their safety threatened yet they do not have the opportunity to retreat. Yet this prompts the question of whether one actually in such a scenario should be legally entitled to. 

One may wonder how to define appropriate self-defense scenarios. Fortunately, Missouri state law has clearly spelled out those situations where one can justifiably use force. 

No duty to retreat 

According to Section 563.031 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes, a person has no duty to retreat from threats in any of the following scenarios: 

  • From a residence, vehicle or dwelling where they are lawfully permitted to be 
  • From private property that they either own or lease 
  • From any other location where they have a legal right to be 

These stipulations comprise what is commonly known as “the castle doctrine,” which follows the old adage of a person’s home being their proverbial castle, and as such, they have the right to defend it. That right even extends to the use of deadly force if a person believes it necessary to defend themselves or others from the threat of similar force in any of the aforementioned locations. 

“Stand your ground”  

Until recently, Missouri’s self-defense laws stopped short of meeting the standard of “stand your ground” laws, which essentially extends to protections afforded by the castle doctrine to places outside of one’s home, vehicle or place of business. Yet per the website for the Missouri General Assembly, State Bill 656 (adopted in 2016) enacted certain provisions of stand your ground laws, namely allowing registered gun owners to use their weapons in self-defense in threatening situations. 


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