Uniform Jury Instructions — Criminal

Chapter 51. Justification and Defense

Part J. Nonhomicidal Defense of Self, Others or Property

NM NMRA 14-5181. Self defense; nondeadly force by defendant.1 

Evidence has been presented that the defendant acted in self defense.

The defendant acted in self defense if:

1.   There was an appearance of immediate danger of bodily harm to the defendant as a result of __________________2; and

2.   The defendant was in fact put in fear of immediate bodily harm and __________________3 because of that fear; and

3.   The defendant used an amount of force that the defendant believed was reasonable and necessary to prevent the bodily harm; and

[4.   The force used by defendant ordinarily would not create a substantial risk of death or great bodily harm; and]4

5.   The apparent danger would have caused a reasonable person in the same circumstances to act 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 in nonhomicide cases when the self defense theory is based upon: necessary defense of self against any unlawful action; reasonable grounds to believe a design exists to commit an unlawful act; or reasonable grounds to believe a design exists to do some 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.   Describe unlawful act which would result in some bodily harm as established by the evidence.  Give at least enough detail to put the act in the context of the evidence.

3.   Describe the act of defendant; e.g. “struck Richard Roe,” “choked Richard Roe.”

4.   Use bracketed material only if the defendant’s action resulted in death or great bodily harm.  If bracketed material is used, the definition of great bodily harm, UJI 14-131 NMRA, must be given if not already given.

[See also New Mexico Uniform Jury Instruction (U.J.I.) 14-5181.]