Two States Aiming to Adopt Self-Defense Law Named After Kyle Rittenhouse

A Tennessee legislator introduced a bill earlier this week named for Kyle Rittenhouse that would require the state to reimburse people who are acquitted on self-defense grounds after facing charges in homicide cases.

State Representative Bruce Griffey, who represents District 75 in the Tennessee General Assembly, is calling the proposed legislation "Kyle's Law," according to Nashville-based WKRN-TV.

Tennessee joins Oklahoma in considering a version of a self-defense bill named for Rittenhouse, the teenager who was acquitted last fall after his legal team argued he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot two people in August 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A state senator in Oklahoma introduced his state's version of the legislation last November.

Kyle's Law Kyle Rittenhouse
A state lawmaker in Tennessee has introduced a version of "Kyle's Law," named for Kyle Rittenhouse. Above, Rittenhouse enters the courtroom to hear the verdict in his homicide trial on November 19, 2021, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Sean Krajacic - Pool/Getty Images

Griffey told WKRN his proposed legislation aims to "protect" people from facing the same kinds of legal circumstances Rittenhouse experienced.

"I think it's a reasonable response to make sure citizens are protected from malicious prosecutions or being prosecuted when there's not really enough evidence in the case to pursue a criminal charge against them," Griffey told the station. "They have to go through hiring a lawyer, hiring experts, lost wages—all costs to them. That's not a fair system."

On Tuesday, Griffey filed the legislation for introduction in the Tennessee General Assembly. The bill "requires a court to order the state to reimburse a criminal defendant for all reasonable costs incurred in defense" when a person facing criminal homicide charges is later acquitted by a jury on self-defense grounds.

If passed, the legislation also would allow courts overseeing such cases "to order the state or the prosecuting attorney, in their individual capacity, to pay damages for malicious prosecution," according to the bill's description.

Attorney Andrew Branca of Law of Self Defense introduced the general idea behind Kyle's Law, which he urged states to adopt, following Rittenhouse's acquittal in November. On the Law of Self Defense website, Branca explained that the proposed legislation would be aimed at "stopping politically motivated prosecutions" of individuals who are charged with crimes after maintaining they acted in self-defense.

Monetary compensation for acquitted defendants that is provided by the state and prosecutor are two of the suggested elements included in the version of Kyle's Law proposed by Branca. Both elements appear in the legislation brought for consideration this week by Griffey.

Oklahoma became the first state to consider a version of Kyle's Law in late November, according to Law of Self Defense. The bill proposed by Oklahoma state Senator Nathan Dahm also includes compensation for individuals who are acquitted on self-defense grounds, according to KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City.