The short, but tricky answer to this is: “Yes, so long as you are reasonable.” What exactly does that mean? In order to determine what is required for your actions to be considered “self-defense” let’s take a closer look at Alabama’s self-defense law.
The Elements of Self-Defense
Alabama Criminal Code § 13A-3-23 states: A person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he or she may use a degree of force which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary for the purpose.
Let’s break that down, the law states that: If someone is using or you reasonably believe they are imminently going to use physical force against yourself or a third party, you may use physical force as a means of protection. The degree of force you use must be reasonable in relation to the degree of force being used by the offender. If not then a person could be charged with assault.
While this seems straightforward enough, the use of the word “reasonable” and “reasonably” make this law a bit less clear-cut. It’s important for you to understand that the reasonableness of your actions will be judged at several stages following an altercation. First, if officers respond to the incident, they will have to determine whether or not to arrest and charge you based on your actions. If you are charged with a crime, the judge or jury will then need to determine if you are guilty of such a crime or if the actions you took were in self-defense and reasonable.
Alabama law further states that deadly force may be used and is legally presumed to be justified if you reasonably believe that:
- someone is about to use deadly physical force against you;
- someone is committing or attempting to commit burglary in your home and is using or going to use physical force against an occupant of that home;
- someone intends to harm you or another through kidnapping, assault, burglary, robbery, rape, or sodomy; and
- someone enters a closed place of business or employment with the intent to commit harm against the owner or an employee.
Tuscaloosa Criminal Defense Lawyer
In Alabama, you have the right to defend yourself from others harming you and if you were charged with a crime, but we acting in self-defense, it’s important for you to hire an experienced attorney. Contact our office today at (205) 737-4696.