GA  3.02.10 Justification; Use of Force in Defense of Self or Others

A person is justified in threatening or using force against another person when, and to the extent that, he/she reasonably believes that such threat or force is necessary to defend himselfYherself or a third person against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person is justified in using force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if that person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself/herself or a third person or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.


O.C.G.A. §16-3-21


The State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified.


State v. Shepperd, 253 Ga. 321 (1984) Bishop v. State, 271 Ga. 291 (1999) (Give the following only as appropriate.)


A person is not justified in using force, if that person

a) initially provokes the use of force against himself7herself with the intent to use such force as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant; or

b) is attempting to commit, is committing, or is fleeing after the commission or attempted commission of a felony (define arguable felony); or

c) was the aggressor or was engaged in a combat by agreement, unless the person withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates his/her intent to withdraw to the other person, and the other person still continues or threatens to continue the use of unlawful force.


O.C.G.A. §~16-3-20, 16-3-21

Maddox v. State, 241 Ga. 398 (1978)

Dasherv. State, 146 Ga. App. 118 (1978)

Rinerv. State, 147 Ga. App. 707 (1978)

Scottv. State, 141 Ga. App. 848 (1977)

Heardv. State, 261 Ga. 262 (1991)

Williams v. State, 274 Ga. 371 (2001)