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Is there a duty to retreat before exercising self-defense in South Dakota?

In most scenarios, it is illegal to make physical contact with another person with the intent to cause them physical harm. Although the law in South Dakota does prohibit violence, there are some scenarios in which violent conduct may be legal.

Individuals who have a reasonable belief that someone else intends to harm them can defend themselves against criminal activity. They can also use physical force to defend their property, including their residence, or to protect other people from imminent criminal activity.

Every state has its own rules regarding self-defense and the use of force. Confusion about differences in the law and might lead to people unintentionally violating state statutes or failing to claim they acted in self-defense when the situation meets the appropriate standards. One of the biggest differences from state to state is whether someone has a duty to retreat before using force to defend themselves. Does South Dakota impose a duty to retreat?

South Dakota has a stand your ground law

Stand your ground laws expand the right of self-defense by limiting or sometimes eliminating the duty to retreat. Most scenarios involving physical force for self-defense in South Dakota are not subject to a duty to retreat.

Provided that someone is in a location they legally have the right to be and that they did not engage in criminal activity immediately prior to the incident, they generally have no duty to try to leave the situation before using physical force in self-defense. The same is true for those defending their home during a robbery or other criminal incident. They do not need to try to leave or flee the situation before using force to protect themselves and their property.

Self-defense claims require careful preparation

Those trying to defend against criminal charges involving assault or other acts of violence with a claim of self-defense must prepare carefully. People need to learn about the law and also review what evidence the state has to ensure they can properly present the situation during trial.

Discovery rules give people the right to access state evidence prior to a criminal trial. Reviewing the evidence and learning more about the law by seeking legal guidance can help people determine if they may have valid grounds for a self-defense strategy in South Dakota.