By Jed McKeehan

We have all heard that we can act in self-defense when someone is trying to hurt us but what does Tennessee law actually says we are allowed to do that?  There are actually three very short statutes that spell out what you can do when acting in self-defense.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 38-2-101 states, “lawful resistance to the commission of a public offense may be made by the party about to be injured, or by others.”

Tennessee Code Annotated section 38-2-102 states, “resistance sufficient to prevent the offense may be made by the party about to be injured to prevent an: (1) offense against the party’s person; or (2) illegal attempt by force to take or injure property in the party’s lawful possession.”

Tennessee Code Annotated section 38-2-103 states, “any other person, in aid or defense of the person about to be injured, may make resistance sufficient to prevent the offense.”

So not only can you act in self-defense, but individuals who see what is going on and come to your aid are also protected.

On top of that, you can also act in self-defense in order to protect the taking or injury to your property.  The most common example of this would be preventing a purse snatching.

These three, short statutes tell you what you need to know about acting in self-defense in Tennessee.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.