State: Jury Instruction Number:


Vermont Jury Instructions


This case presents the issue of whether (Def)_______________ was acting in the lawful defense of (third person)_______________.  If (Def)_______________ acted in lawful defense of another person, then [his] [her] actions are excused and [he] [she] is not guilty of any crime.

(Def)_______________ is not required to prove that [he] [she] acted in lawful defense of (third person)_______________.  Instead, the State must have proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that [he] [she] did not act in lawful defense of another.

(Def)_______________ had a right to use a reasonable amount of force to defend (third person)_______________, if [he] [she] reasonably believed three things:

1.  that [his] [her] acts were necessary for the defense of (third person)_______________;

2.  that, under the circumstances as a reasonable person would have understood them to be, (third person)_______________ would have had the right to defend [himself] [herself]; and

3.  that the amount of force (Def)_______________ used was necessary.

For (Def)_______________ to be entitled to protect (third person)_______________, it was not necessary for (third person)_______________ to actually be harmed.  If (Def)_______________ reasonably believed that (third person)_______________ was in immediate danger of bodily harm, then [he] [she] was justified in defending (third person)_______________ without waiting for (third person)_______________ to be struck first.  The right of defense of a third person does not arise from a fear of danger in general, but only from an actual or reasonably expected physical attack.

Even if (Def)_______________ was justified in defending (third person)_______________, [he] [she] was only entitled to use that amount of force which reasonably appeared to [him] [her] to be necessary to protect (third person)_______________ under all the circumstances.  Whether (Def)_______________’s actions were justified by defense of (third person)_______________ depends upon whether it reasonably appeared to [him] [her] that it was necessary to use that amount of force which [he] [she] allegedly did use.  If [he] [she] used more force than was reasonably necessary to avoid injury to (third person)_______________, then [he] [she] did not act in lawful defense of another.