Criminal Jury instructions for the District of Columbia
Fifth Edition (2014)


Every person has the right to use a reasonable amount of force in self-defense if (1) s/he actually believes s/he is in imminent danger of bodily harm and if (2) s/he has reasonable grounds for that belief. The question is not whether looking back on the incident you believe that the use of force was necessary. The question is whether [name of defendant], under the circumstances as they appeared to him/her at the time of the incident, actually believed s/he was in imminent danger of bodily harm, and could reasonably hold that belief.

[Insert other relevant self-defense instructions.]

Self-defense is a defense to the charges of [insert all charges to which self-defense applies]. [Name of defendant] is not required to prove that s/he acted in self-defense. Where evidence of self-defense is present, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [name of defendant] did not act in self-defense. If the government has failed to do so, you must find [name of defendant] not guilty.