It doesn’t take much for a verbal dispute to turn physical. When this happens, you might find yourself on the receiving end of criminal charges. The severity of those charges can run the spectrum, too. Assault, battery, and even murder are all very real possibilities. If you or a loved one is facing these kinds of accusations, then it’s imperative that you know what criminal defense options are available and which ones are best suited to the facts at hand. This week, let’s take a look at Alabama’s self-defense law and how you might be able to use it in your case.
THE LAW ON SELF-DEFENSE
Alabama is known as a “stand your ground” state, which means that you don’t have a duty to try to flee a dangerous situation before taking matters into your own hands to defend yourself. Under the law, you are justified in using force to defend yourself or someone else if:
- The physical force you employ is meant to stop another individual’s use or imminent use of physical force
- That physical force used by the other person is illegal
- You reasonably believe that that force was illegal and either in progress or imminent
- You reasonably believe that the amount of force that you use is necessary to stop the other person’s illegal use or imminent use of force
When it comes to deadly force, you might be able to raise a presumption of justification if you can show certain elements. Amongst them are that the other person was using or about to use deadly force, the force occurred during a burglary, or the use of deadly force is necessary to stop one of a number of serious crimes such as kidnapping or rape. Deadly force can also be deemed justifiable in the context of a robbery of a business.
Note that this is just a general look at when self-defense is justifiable under the law, but doesn’t provide the in-depth analysis that your case may need. Therefore, don’t construe this as legal advice, but instead as a starting point for you to explore this criminal defense option in your or your loved one’s case.
THE LIMITATIONS OF A SELF-DEFENSE ARGUMENT
Although arguing self-defense in your case can be a powerful move, it has its limitations. To start, you can’t avail yourself of this defense if it’s shown that you were the initial aggressor or that you provoked the illegal force that the other individual exhibited. Therefore, words and action preceding the violence matter. Be sure to address these issues head-on and provide that context that is necessary to show a judge and jury the full scope of the situation.
Another issue that is often seen with self-defense claims stems from the “reasonableness” requirement. Deciding whether your split second decision in the heat of the moment was reasonable can be a tricky thing to prove. That’s why details matter. When presenting a self-defense case, you have to comb through the facts and use them to paint a picture for the judge and jury. If you can portray the fear that you felt in the moment, then you can increase your chances of a convincing the judge or jury that you acted in a reasonable fashion.
AGGRESSIVELY PROTECT YOUR INTERESTS
With so much at stake, you owe it to yourself and your family to aggressively defend yourself. Self-defense might be just one criminal defense option available to you, but it can be a powerful one. But putting forth these defenses is often much more challenging than it seems. That’s why it might be in your best interests to work closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you develop the legal strategy you need to increase your chances of beating your charges and reclaiming your life.