Course Outline

Handgun in belt holster

In Virginia, the laws regarding self-defense and the use of deadly (lethal) force are based primarily on the decisions from court cases and are, therefore, common law. In a self-defense situation, Virginia is a “stand-your-ground” state. Here are some of the ways you can defend yourself legally.

  • It is legal to use force to defend yourself against another person in any location, including in your home, in your yard, at work, at a store, or in church.
  • You may use deadly force if:
    • Someone attacks you and…
    • The attack is not the result of your misconduct and…
    • You reasonably fear that you, or another innocent party, are in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm from the attacker.
  • If an attack is a result of your own misconduct, you must retreat and let the attacker know that you do not want to fight. If the attacker continues anyway, you may then use force to stop them.
  • You may use force against a trespasser if the trespasser refuses to leave after being ordered to go. However, the force involved may not endanger human life or cause great bodily harm. It is also illegal to brandish a deadly weapon to defend your personal property.
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