Changes Ahead For Some Arkansas Laws

Jonesboro, AR -- Reagan McNeil is a mother of three.

"It does sound like a good idea for families and really for any homeowner to be able to protect their home and their children and whoever else is in the home I assume," said McNeil.

McNeil says her family's safety is top priority.

A new bill going into effect on Tuesday may offer even more safety to her and her family if they are ever threatened on their property.

This change on the Arkansas books effects homeowners and their rights regarding self defense on their property including the use of deadly force.

"Self defense is always an issue of last resort.  We would encourage you to retreat if you can but you don't have to retreat if you are in your dwelling and you don't have to retreat now if you are in one of these curtilage areas....but it still has to be an issue of self-defense," said Walden.

The new law does not differ a whole lot from the old law--basically the new law just expands where you can retreat in the event an aggressor is on your property.

The most recent legislative session expanded dwelling to mean curtilage and they try to define it, and it's considered the open areas and spaces by your home, sometimes they are fenced in, where you are likely to be," said Walden.

Walden says he thinks a garage, for example, would be curtilage, but does concede these areas may be subject to interpretation by a court.

He says though one thing is steadfast--you are still under a duty to retreat if you can.

"We still have the requirement of retreat in Arkansas and it's limited to these areas but you still have to meet the but definition of self defense.  It's not open season just because someone is in your house or your yard. You still have to be entitled to defend yourself but you just don't have to retreat even if you have the opportunity to retreat," said Walden.