Stand Your Ground In Oregon

Is Oregon a “stand your ground” state? When confronted with a threat, do you have a duty to retreat before using force? Do you have to retreat before using deadly force?

In short, Oregon is not explicitly a “stand your ground” state, but there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force in Oregon. There are however other limitations on the use of deadly force.

Self-Defense In Oregon Generally Doesn’t Depend On Location

Generally speaking, there is a robust allowance in Oregon for self-defense anywhere. You can use physical force in defense of property, persons other than yourself, in defense of yourself, and even deadly force in some circumstances.

Oregon law is a codified into Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS), and there is no statute in Oregon which is titled or describes “stand your ground.” Similarly, Oregon case law which interprets ORS provisions does not have any cases which explicitly categorize Oregon as a “stand your ground” state.

But some states require that you attempt to escape a confrontation or retreat to safety. These states are called “duty to retreat states.” Oregon is not a duty to retreat state. In Oregon, you can defend yourself or others regardless of physical or geographic location.

All this being said, ORS 161.219 does limit the use of deadly force. A person cannot use deadly physical force upon another person unless the person reasonably believes that the other person is: Committing or attempting to commit a felony involving the use or threatened imminent use of physical force against a person; or committing or attempting to commit a burglary in a dwelling; or using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force against a person. (Emphasis Added)

Standing Your Ground And Using Deadly Force In Your Home Is Explicitly Authorized In Oregon

Notice that in ORS 161.219, the statute specifically mentions burglary. This may not seem very interesting at first, but consider that a burglary in Oregon does not need to be violent or even involve any threatened use of force. This means that one could use deadly force against someone attempting to commit a theft within a dwelling. That is very different than requiring that a person using deadly force be limited to situations where an attacker is “committing or attempting to commit a felony involving the use or threatened imminent use of physical force against a person.” Now all this is not to suggest that one should use deadly force for any intrusion into their home, but Oregon’s key statute on the subject authorizes it.

When Standing Your Ground In Oregon, What Is Reasonable?

A key tenet of Oregon self-defense laws is that you act reasonably. In order for you to be justified in standing your ground and using physical force, you must do so reasonably. What is “reasonable?” Well, that’s going to depend largely on your jury. Furthermore, your jury is going to vary wildly depending on whether it’s in an anti-gun leftist jurisdiction such as Portland or Multnomah County, or in a free part of the state such as Eastern Oregon. While this may not seem consistent, fair, or even sensible, the law that will apply to your use of self-defense will vary depending on where you exercise your right to self-defense within the state.

Should You Stand Your Ground or Retreat?

As a general rule, when facing a threat, you need to first survive the encounter. Things tend to happen very quickly when you or someone else is being attacked, and it’s no time to look up caselaw on the Internet or flip out a booklet on Oregon statutory law. Again, Oregon’s self-defense laws afford quite a bit of discretion for people needing to use self-defense. All this being said, the use of firearms and deadly force in Oregon should likely be far more cautious in the anti-gun jurisdictions of Portland and Multnomah County.

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