Criminal Jury instructions for the District of Columbia
Fifth Edition (2014)
Instruction 9.501. SELF-DEFENSE—AMOUNT OF FORCE PERMISSIBLE
A. NONDEADLY FORCE
A person may use a reasonable amount of force in self-defense. A person may use an amount of force which, at the time of the incident, s/he actually and reasonably believes is necessary to protect himself/herself from imminent bodily harm.
B. DEADLY FORCE
A person may use a reasonable amount of force in self-defense, including, in some circumstances, deadly force. “Deadly force” is force that is likely to cause death or serious bodily harm. A person may use deadly force in self-defense if s/he actually and reasonably believes at the time of the incident that s/he is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm from which s/he can save himself/herself only by using deadly force against his/her assailant.
C. EXCESSIVE FORCE (TO BE USED WITH EITHER DEADLY OR NONDEADLY FORCE)
Even if the other person is the aggressor and [name of defendant] is justified in using force in self-defense, s/he may not use any greater force than s/he actually and reasonably believes to be necessary under the circumstances [to prevent the harm s/he reasonably believes is intended] [to save his/her life or avoid serious bodily harm].
In deciding whether [name of defendant] used excessive force in defending himself/herself, you may consider all the circumstances under which s/he acted. A person acting in the heat of passion caused by an assault does not necessarily lose his/her claim of self-defense by using greater force than would seem necessary to a calm mind. In the heat of passion, a person may actually and reasonably believe something that seems unreasonable to a calm mind.