Uniform Jury Instructions — Criminal

Chapter 51. Justification and Defense

Part I.  Justifiable Homicide

NM NMRA 14-5171. Justifiable homicide; self defense.1 

Evidence has been presented that the defendant killed __________________ (name of victim) in self defense.

The killing is in self defense if:

1.  There was an appearance of immediate danger of death or great bodily harm2 to the defendant as a result of __________________3; and

2.  The defendant was in fact put in fear by the apparent danger of immediate death or great bodily harm and killed __________________ (name of victim) because of that fear; and

3.  A reasonable person in the same circumstances as the defendant would have acted as the defendant did.

The burden is on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self defense. If you have a reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant acted in self defense you must find the defendant not guilty.


1.  For use when the self defense theory is based on: necessary defense of self against any unlawful action; reasonable grounds to believe a design exists to commit a felony; or reasonable grounds to believe a design exists to do some great bodily harm. If this instruction is given, add to the essential elements instruction for the offense charged, “The defendant did not act in self defense”.

2.  The definition of great bodily harm, UJI 14-131,must be given if not already given.

3.  Describe unlawful act, felony or act which would result in death or some great bodily harm as established by the evidence. Give at least enough detail to put the act in the context of the evidence.

[See related New Mexico Uniform Jury Instruction (U.J.I.) 14-5171.]