The Oregon Stand Your Ground Law Guide
What is Oregon’s Stand Your Ground law? Just like every other U.S. state, Oregon has its own self-defense laws. The criminal code in Oregon makes it unlawful to assault and/or kill another person. However, there are some exceptions to this rule under the Oregon Stand Your Ground law. In some circumstances and situations, you can assault, or even kill someone, and not be convicted of a crime. You can, however, still be charged with the crime by the state of Oregon even with these laws.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are being charged with assault or murder, you can use Oregon self-defense statutes as a defense in criminal proceedings against you. These laws can also be used to prevent the State from filing charges against you. If you’ve been involved in a self-defense situation and live in the Medford area, give us a call! We at Kollie Law have years of experience crafting defenses to zealously advocate for your rights in these types of circumstances. Click the button below to request a free consultation.
Is Oregon a Stand Your Ground state?
Stand Your Ground is sometimes called a “line in the sand” or “no duty to retreat” law, which means that you may use deadly force when you reasonably believe it to be necessary to defend yourself against certain violent crimes. Oregon’s self-defense laws are not a guarantee, however, that you will not be convicted. It depends on your individual circumstance and how much force was used in each circumstance. For example, self-defense may not be a justifiable defense if you bring a gun or knife to a fistfight.
There are a few things that Oregon self-defense laws justify defending. These include self-defense for:
Defense of your property
Property of another person
All of these Oregon stand-your-ground laws have specific conditions as to when self-defense is justified under each circumstance. Using deadly force in Oregon is also very circumstance-specific.
Oregon Self-Defense Laws of you or someone else
For self-defense of yourself or a third person in the state of Oregon, you are justified to use physical force on another person if you believe there is “to be imminent use of unlawful physical force” perpetrated toward you or the third person. You must believe it to be “imminent” or “likely to occur at any moment” that a perpetrator is either going to kick, punch, or use a weapon against you or another person. For example, if the perpetrator has his/her hand wrapped around a knife and pulls his/her hand back in preparation to stab you, you would most likely be justified to act in self-defense against that person. Any circumstance beyond that will be based on circumstantial evidence such as threats, demeanor, and prior history of the perpetrator.
If a person threatens to cause harm to you or to another person in the near future (a few days or weeks), that may not be enough for the threat to be considered “imminent” under Oregon’s stand-your-ground law. It's also important to know how much force is lawfully allowed to be considered self-defense under Oregon law. The Oregon self-defense statute states that a person “may use a degree of force which he/she reasonably believes is necessary for the purpose”.
What is Reasonable Belief?
Each circumstance will be based on whether or not you knew that the use of force in your particular situation was reasonable or not. If your situation is a fistfight, the use of deadly force may not be necessary and may not be justified under Oregon stand your ground law.. However, that may not always be true depending on your particular situation. For example, if the perpetrator is a much bigger person than yourself, you may view an attack from that person as lethal, and therefore that could be justified under Oregon’s self-defense laws.
Under Oregon law, if you provoke the imminent unlawful physical activity, or you are the initial aggressor, you may not be justified for self-defense. However, if you withdraw from the encounter and communicate your intent to do so, yet the other person continues to threaten you and use unlawful physical force, you are no longer considered the aggressor. In other words, if you started the fight, you will not be able to use self-defense under Oregon law unless you can show that you withdrew from the fight and acted in self-defense after that.
Unlawful physical force will not be justified if it is “contact by agreement”. Contact by agreement would include a situation like agreeing to meet up with someone at a later date for a fistfight. This is known as mutual combat and isn't justified under Oregon law. Some states justify bodily harm done to another person during mutual combat, but Oregon isn’t one of those states.
Oregon Self Defense Laws of your property
You may be justified in using physical force to defend your property. In Oregon, there is a statute for the defense of property. The Oregon self-defense property law states that you are justified in using physical force other than deadly physical force when you reasonably believe it to be necessary to prevent or stop the commission or attempted commission of theft or destruction of property. Interestingly, under this statute, you do not need to be the owner of the property.
The statute could apply to any property, and it also has a broad definition of “property”, meaning it could not just be real estate, but it could also include any type of personal belongings or the belongings of others. This statute allows Oregon citizens, in some ways, to act as law enforcement when they observe the commission of a crime related to property. However, the citizens are not justified to use deadly force in these types of situations.
Can you use physical force?
Also, under Oregon law, you can use physical force if you reasonably believe that the other person is stealing or committing criminal mischief of property. Even if you find out later that the person was not committing a crime, but you reasonably believed they were, your actions may be justified. It could come down to whether or not you actually believed the person was committing a crime or not.
It's important to note that this only applies to the theft of any property and possessions and criminal mischief of property. Criminal mischief can include things like spray painting of property or causing any damage or defacement of property. This doesn’t include trespassing on property which the Oregon self-defense property statute explains. You must lawfully possess or control the premises in order to use physical force against a trespasser in this situation.
The use of force also has to be reasonably necessary to prevent or stop the commission of a crime. Similar to situations of defense of you or another person, it comes down to whether the force used was reasonably necessary. A jury could determine that if you used a weapon like a knife or a bat that you used “deadly force” and and you may not be covered under the Oregon statute of self-defense.
What is the Castle Doctrine in Oregon?
Another self-defense statute in Oregon relates to a person that is in “lawful possession or control of a premises”. The word “premises” is a broader term for “building” and would include anything from an Airbnb, hotel room, boat, camp trailer, aircraft, or any other structure that is adapted for overnight accommodation. This definition could possibly include a tent or campsite as well. This is known as the Oregon Castle law or Oregon Castle doctrine. Oregon’s castle law has a broader definition than that of some other states, which limits the term premises to simply mean personal real estate or homes.
If you paid for these amenities, you are most likely considered to be in “lawful possession”. However, the statute also includes being in “control of the premises” which broadens the definition even more. So a person may be able to act in self-defense on a property if they are considered “in control” of it. This could include a babysitter or house sitter staying at the owner’s home, or someone staying at a rental property that was paid for by someone else but is allowed control by the person staying there.
If you are in lawful possession of the premises or in control of the premises, the Oregon statute allows you to use deadly force, but only in specific circumstances or situations. These same circumstances apply whether you are defending yourself or another person.
Under Oregon self-defense laws, if you reasonably believe that someone is trespassing on property that you are in lawful possession of or in control of, you may use physical force. You must believe that physical force was necessary to prevent or stop the trespass.
Use of Deadly Force in Oregon
“Deadly Force” in Oregon is defined as “physical force that under the circumstances in which it is used is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury. A knife or a baseball bat could both be considered deadly force depending on the circumstances. A gun is a deadly force. Fists or kicking could also be considered deadly force, depending on the size and strength of the perpetrator.
When is deadly force justified legally?
There are specific provisions as to when deadly force is justified legally under Oregon law. In some specific circumstances, deadly force can be justified when it is used in defense of you or another person, or in defense of property that you lawfully possess or control.
You can use deadly force on your property under the following conditions:
The trespasser is committing or attempting to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of physical force against you.
The trespasser is committing or attempting to commit burglary in a dwelling.
The trespasser is using or about to use unlawful deadly force against you.
If someone pulls a gun on you, you are justified in using deadly force. Brandishing a knife can also be considered deadly force.
Under Oregon law, a burglary is entering or remaining in a building with the intent to commit a crime. So if someone enters your house or apartment and you believe they have the intent to commit a crime, you can use deadly force. A “crime” is a broad term so it could include anything from theft to assault. Most people can’t quickly define what is considered a felony and what isn’t, especially in the heat of the moment. So again, it comes down to whether or not you reasonably believe a felony is about to be committed.
Can you shoot someone for trespassing in Oregon?
Using a gun is considered deadly force and could possibly be used if you reasonably believe that someone is trespassing on property that you are in control of, or are in lawful possession of. However, you must reasonably believe that it is necessary to use deadly force to prevent the trespass. It may be considered unreasonable to use a gun if you knew the perpetrators would have left if you had just yelled at them.
The Oregon Stand Your Ground Law Conclusion
The Oregon stand-your-ground laws state that you can use deadly force when you reasonably believe it to be necessary to defend yourself against certain violent crimes. You can use deadly force if you reasonably believe the perpetrator is committing a felony, or if you are facing imminent threats of physical force.
Self-defense cases can be extremely complex due to the wide variety of circumstances in each case. We pride ourselves in our extensive experience and deep knowledge of the legal system, making us the best option when you need legal expertise with self-defense cases or any other legal matters. We service Medford and surrounding areas. Call us today for a free consultation! If you're reading this and live in the Portland area, we recommend Shannon Powell and Chris Trotter. Both are excellent lawyers.