AL PJI-C § 13A-3-23 SELF-DEFENSE (Deadly Physical Force)

AL PJI-C § 13A-3-23 SELF-DEFENSE (Deadly Physical Force)

State: Alabama

State of Alabama: Criminal Code

Pattern Jury Instructions – Criminal (Third Edition, 1994)

(Note: AL is in a multi-year effort to revise and update it’s jury instructions.  As of this posting the self-defense jury instructions–last updated more than 20 years ago–have not yet been subject to revision and update.  It is anticipated, however, that they will be revised and updated in the near future.)

Ala. Code § 13A-3-23. SELF-DEFENSE (Deadly Physical Force)

One of the issues in this case is self defense.

A person may use physical force upon another person in order to defend himself (or a third person) from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he may use a degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for the purpose.

A person may use deadly physical force in order to defend himself if he reasonably believes that the other person is: (either):

(1) using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force;

(or) (2) using or about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling while committing or attempting to commit a burglary of such dwelling;

(or) (3) committing or about to commit (either):

(a) a kidnapping in any degree;
(b) an assault in the first or second degree;
(c) a burglary in any degree; (c)
(d) a robbery in any degree;
(e) a forcible rape;
(or) (f) a forcible sodomy.

For the defendant’s use of deadly physical force against another person to be justified, the deadly physical force must have been used under the following circumstances:

(1) the defendant must have reasonably believed that (name person against whom force was used) was using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force against him or a third person,

(or) (2) the defendant must have reasonably believed that (name person against whom force was used) was using or about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling while committing or attempting to commit a burglary of such dwelling;

(or) (3) the defendant must have reasonably believed that (name person against whom force was used) was committing or about to commit (either):

(a) a kidnapping in any degree;
(b) an assault in the first or second degree;
(c) a burglary in any degree; (c)
(d) a robbery in any degree;
(e) a forcible rape;
(or) (f) a forcible sodomy.

Deadly physical force is force which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury.

A reasonable belief is a belief formed in reliance upon reasonable appearances. It is a belief not formed recklessly or negligently. The test of reasonableness is not whether the defendant was correct in his belief but whether the belief was reasonable under the circumstances existing at the time.

The defendant is not justified in using deadly physical force upon another person and cannot prevail on the issue of self defense if it reasonably appears or the defendant knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating, except that the defendant is not required to retreat:

(1) if he is in his dwelling or his place of work and was not the original aggressor;

(or) (2) if he is a peace officer or a private person lawfully assisting a peace officer at his direction.

[IMPORTANT: This duty to retreat outside of one’s home or duty was eliminated in 2009 by statutory amendment; § 13A-3-23 now includes the following language:  “(b) A person who is justified under subsection (a) in using physical force, including deadly physical force, and who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and is in any place where he or she has the right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground.”]

The defendant does not have the burden of proving that he acted in self defense. To the contrary, once self-defense becomes an issue, the State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self defense.

USE NOTES

A court should not instruct on self defense when there is no evidence to sustain the plea, or when the defendant’s evidence showed that he did not act in self-defense.
Raines v. State, 455 So. 2d 967 (Ala. Crim. App. 1984)

If there is any evidence however slight tending to support the allegation that the defendant acted in self defense, the issue should be submitted to the jury.
King v. State, 478 So. 2d 318 (Ala. Crim. App. 1985)

The defendant bears no burden to prove self defense. Once evidence of self defense is present, the Court should so instruct the jury where the defendant requests such an instruction.
Harper v. State, 629 So.2d 67 (Ala. Crim. App.), cert. denied, No. 1921608 (Ala. 1993)

By | 2015-03-20T10:01:52+00:00 March 20th, 2015|Comments Off on AL PJI-C § 13A-3-23 SELF-DEFENSE (Deadly Physical Force)