RI X. E. Defense of Others

NOTE: Many states have standardized jury instructions that are prepared by legal experts under the supervision of the State’s Supreme Court.  Such jury instructions are prepared by independent third-parties, not by the prosecution or the defense, and thus can be considered “neutral” between those adversarial parties..  

Rhode Island does not have standardized criminal jury instructions of this “neutral” type.  All that is available is a series of jury instruction prepared by the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General.  As a result, they do not represent the perspective of the defense, and thus do not share the “neutral” aspect of genuine standardized jury instructions.  They were also last updated in 2000, and thus are rather dated.  

Nevertheless, given that these are all that is available in the context of self-defense jury instructions, we provide them here. 

RI X. E. Defense of Others

You have heard evidence in this trial that the defendant was justified in using force to defend another person, namely ____________, from alleged imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury.

Generally speaking, the principles of self-defense are also applicable with respect to the defense of others. However, in order for the defendant to invoke the defense of “Defense of Others,” three conditions must be present;

1. The force used here, must be such that the defendant himself or herself would have been justified in using it in order to protect himself or herself from the harm perceived as imperiling the other person;

2. The other person, _____________, would have been justified in using the amount of force utilized by the defendant in protecting himself;

3. The defendant must reasonably believe that his or her intervention and the use of the amount of force in question was necessary to protect the other person, _____________.

The doctrine of “Defense of Others” judges the defendant upon his own reasonable perceptions. In other words, the justification is based upon what a reasonable person would consider to be the imminence of death or serious bodily injury under the circumstances presented during the trial.

The defendant is not obligated to prove this defense; rather where the defense is raised, and where the evidence suggests that the defendant may have been justified in using force to protect ___________ , the State is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not entitled to invoke the doctrine of “Defense of Others.”