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Is Nebraska a Stand Your Ground State?

By Jason Bottlinger on August 23, 2021

Laws on the subject of self-defense vary from state to state. Stand your ground laws provide legal justification for the use of force against attackers in certain situations. These laws come into play when a person is lawfully present in a place, not engaged in any unlawful activity, and reasonably believes force is necessary to protect himself or others from serious injury or imminent death. Nebraska has not enacted a stand your ground law, as discussed by the Legislative Research Office (LRO). However, we do have self-defense laws in place.

What Are the Laws on Self-Defense In Nebraska?

Nebraska’s self-defense laws can be found in Nebraska Revised Statutes, Sections 28-1406 through 28-1416. The law states at Section 28-1409:

“. . . the use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.”

Two important elements of this statute are the terms “immediately necessary” and “present occasion.” The law only justifies the use of force if it is necessary because of the attacker’s actions at that moment. Use of force cannot be based on earlier threats or previous actions of the attacker. You could be facing assault charges if you used force on a person today who made threats against you or assaulted you last week.

What About the Use of Deadly Force?

Under Nebraska law, you can use deadly force, including firearms, to protect yourself or someone else in certain dire situations. Section 28-1409 states that the use of deadly force is not justifiable unless the actor believes it is necessary to protect himself from death, serious bodily harm, kidnapping, or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat. Neither is it justifiable when a person provokes the use of force against himself in the same encounter with the purpose of causing death or serious bodily harm.

What Is the Difference Between the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground Laws?

Stand your ground laws are an expansion of the castle doctrine – a common law principle of self-defense. Under this doctrine, a person has no duty to retreat in his own home and may use reasonable force, including deadly force, to defend himself, another person, or his property. Outside the home, however, a person has a duty to retreat, if possible, to avoid using deadly force. This duty to retreat is what distinguishes the castle doctrine from stand your ground laws.

Do We Have a Duty to Retreat in Nebraska?

Nebraska does impose a duty to retreat. Under state law, use of deadly force is not justifiable if the actor knows he can avoid using deadly force with complete safety by:

  • Retreating;
  • Surrendering possession of something to which the attacker is asserting a claim of right; or
  • Complying with a demand to abstain from any action he has no duty to take.

However, the castle doctrine applies in Nebraska. The law provides an exception to the duty to retreat if a person is in his own dwelling or place of work (unless he was the initial aggressor or the attacker works in the same place).

Legality of the use of force is complicated, particularly when it involves firearms. If you are facing charges of firearms violations, assault, or murder after using force to defend yourself, it is in your best interests to speak with an Omaha criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234. We are compassionate listeners and effective litigators.

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