10 Minn. Prac., Jury Instr. Guides–Criminal CRIMJIG 7.06 (6th ed.)

October 2017 update

Part I. The General Part

1 .General Principles of Criminal Law

Chapter 7. Defenses—Miscellaneous

CRIMJIG 7.06 Self-Defense—Death Not the Result

The defendant asserts the defense of self-defense.

“Self-defense” means that the person used reasonable force against _____ to resist (or to aid _____ (another) in resisting) an (offense [1]) (assault) against the person, and such an offense was being committed or the person reasonably believed that it was.

It is lawful for a person, who is (resisting an (offense) (assault) against (his) (her) person) (or) (aiding another in resisting an (offense) (assault) against the person) and who has reasonable grounds to believe that bodily injury is about to be inflicted upon the person, to defend from an attack. In doing so, the person may use all force and means that the person reasonably believes to be necessary and that would appear to a reasonable person, in similar circumstances, to be necessary to prevent an injury that appears to be imminent. [An assault is (the intentional infliction of bodily harm upon another) (or) (an intentional attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another) (or) (an act done with intent to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death in another.]

The kind and degree of force a person may lawfully use in self-defense is limited by what a reasonable person in the same situation would believe to be necessary. Any use of force beyond that is regarded by the law as excessive.

The legal excuse of self-defense is available only to those who act honestly and in good faith. This includes the duty to retreat [2] or avoid the danger if reasonably possible.

The defendant is not guilty of a crime if (he) (she) acted in self-defense.

The State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense.

(The rule of self-defense does not authorize one to seek revenge or to take into (his) (her) own hands the punishment of an offender.)


1. The offense must be an offense against the person. See M.S.A. §§ 609.06 and 609.065. The term “assault” is included in the instruction as it is the most common offense giving rise to a self-defense claim.

2. There is no duty to retreat, even against a co-resident, when acting in defense of one’s dwelling. State v. Glowacki, 630 N.W.2d 392 (Minn. 2001).