Kansans have long enjoyed the right to defend themselves or others. The justification of self-defense was addressed in 2011, with statutory changes that clarified who, where, when, and how self-defense may be utilized.

Generally, the use of force against another is a criminal offense. Self-defense is an affirmative defense, which means that your actions in defending yourself or another would likely be criminal acts without the self-defense statutes. The distinction between a criminal act and an act of self-defense requires a determination as to who is the aggressor and who is attempting to prevent a harmful act.

Two Types of Force

Kansas recognizes two types of force: “force” and “deadly force.” Under Kansas law “force” can be any of the following: words or actions that reasonably convey the threat of force including threats of death or great bodily harm; the application of physical force; or the presentation or display of the means of force. Deadly force is physical force likely to cause death or great bodily harm to a person.

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-5222 provides that you are justified in the use of force against someone if you reasonably believe that such use of force is necessary to defend yourself or another against an aggressor’s imminent use of unlawful force. Thus, this law allows you to respond to another’s force or imminent use of force against you or another. Stated more simply, you have the right to prevent someone from using force against you or another.

When Am I Justified in Using Deadly Force?

Further, you are justified in using deadly force under circumstances just described if you believe that such deadly force is necessary to defend yourself or another against imminent death or great bodily harm.

Under Kansas law, you may stand your ground and have no duty to retreat prior to the use of force, including deadly force, to protect yourself or another.

Finally, the law provides that any threats of serious bodily harm or death, or the display of a deadly weapon do not constitute deadly force if made for the purposes of creating apprehension in defense of yourself, another, or to effectuate a lawful arrest. This statute is important to firearm owners, because many jurisdictions have criminalized such actions, and you may be charged with brandishing a firearm under these circumstances.

Your rights to defend yourself do not extend to places where you do not have a legal right to be or while you are committing a crime.

Many people are under the assumption they can use deadly force to protect property alone, which is not true, and will almost certainly get you arrested and prosecuted. It may seem like you are allowed to protect property because you are allowed to defend your automobile against intruders, but there is a requirement that the vehicle be occupied before you can resort to deadly force and thus, you are protecting a person and not the automobile.

For any further questions regarding self-defense in the State of Kansas, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.


The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.