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Wisconsin Self-Defense Laws


If a person has been charged with assault or homicide in Wisconsin, one of the most common defenses which may apply to violent crimes is self-defense. In general, the use of deadly or non-deadly force was justified because they were defending themselves or another individual.

Deadly force can only be used if a person reasonably believes that such force is required to avoid death or great bodily harm. While Wisconsin doesn’t impose a duty to retreat, juries are still allowed to consider whether a defendant had an opportunity to retreat to determine whether or not it was necessary to use deadly force in self-defense.

However, if an individual provokes a confrontation, he/she has a duty to retreat. Self-defense can only be applied if he/she reasonably believes all means to escape from or otherwise avoid great bodily injury or death has been exhausted.

The Castle Doctrine is a specific self-defense rule which applies when a person is in their home, vehicle, or place of business and uses deadly force against someone who has unlawfully and forcibly entered their property or attempting to do so. The individual against whom the force was used needs to present in the owner’s dwelling, vehicle, or place of business after unlawfully and forcibly entering it.

If a person defending his/her life, home, vehicle, or place of business continues to use deadly force in self-defense well after the intruder flees the property, the Castle Doctrine will not protect the owner from criminal charges. Additionally, deadly force cannot be used against an invited guest.

Wisconsin does not have a “stand your ground” law. In states which have such laws, the right to stand your ground can apply outside a dwelling, car, and place of business. As long as the individual using deadly force in self-defense has the legal right to be in the location, didn’t provoke the confrontation, and the other party continues to be the aggressor, then the individual is allowed to use deadly force against the other party.

If you have been accused of a violent crime in Milwaukee, our experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella can protect your rights, reputation, and freedom. We can evaluate your case, determine all of your available legal options, and develop a strong defense strategy on your behalf.

For more information about our legal services, contact us and request a free consultation today.

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