Louisiana Criminal Jury Instructions (2017)
§ 6:17 Burden of proof—Justification defenses

If you find that the defendant has raised the defense that his conduct was justified, the state must prove that the defendant’s conduct was not justified.

Remember, the state bears the burden of proving the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.

The courts of appeal continue to be divided regarding the burden of proof of self-defense in non-homicide cases. The Second and Fifth Circuit continue to provide that the defendant must bear the burden of proving self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence in non-homicide situations. See State v. Rainey, 722 So. 2d 1097 (La. Ct. App. 5th Cir. 1998), (discussing split in the circuits on this issue); State v. Taylor, 874 So. 2d 297 (La. Ct. App. 5th Cir. 2004); State v. Hall, 889 So. 2d 1034 (La. Ct. app. 5th Cir. 2004); State v. Richardson, 896 So. 2d 247 (La. Ct. App. 2d Cir. 2005); State v. Cheatham, 877 So. 2d 164 (La. Ct. App. 2d Cir. 2004). However, the courts of appeal are consistent with the view that in homicide cases, the burden falls on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense, citing Wiley v. Rapides Regional Medical Center, 847 So. 2d 752 (La. Ct. App. 3d Cir. 2003). See State v. Cheatham, above; State v. Taylor, above; State v. Miller, 868 So. 2d 239 (La. Ct. App. 2d Cir. 2004).

NOTE: The Second Circuit re-affirmed that the defendant has the burden of proof in non-homicide cases, in that circuit, as recently as August 2017: State v. Barron, 2017 La. App. LEXIS 1460 (LA Ct. App. 2017)

Updated: 11/30/2017