In recent years, especially in light of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, there has been much discussion about the “stand your ground” law. A stand your ground law removes the duty to retreat before acting in self-defense. Alabama adopted this rule, thereby eliminating the duty to retreat under certain circumstances.
In 2006, Alabama adopted the “Castle Doctrine,” which allows citizens to defend themselves and others if they are threatened in their home or place of work. In such an instance, a person may use deadly force, provided the person feels that danger is immediate and it is necessary for self-defense. There is no duty to retreat.
Specifically, the Alabama Criminal Code states: “A person who is justified under subsection (a) in using physical force, including deadly physical force, and who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and is in any place where he or she has the right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground.”
Moreover, the language of the law is expansive. It includes self-defense against the following crimes:
- Assault in the first or second degree
- Forcible rape; and
- Forcible sodomy
Moreover, self-defense is also permitted against a person who:
- Is unlawfully and forcefully entering, or already has entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle;
- Is unlawfully and forcefully entering a federally licensed nuclear power facility;
- Is in the process of sabotaging or attempting to sabotage a federally licensed nuclear power facility;
- Is attempting to remove, or has forcefully removed, a person against his or her will from any dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle when the person has a legal right to be there.
Legal scholars explain that self-defense is a defense of justification. It acts as a “shield,” not a “sword.” When self-defense becomes an issue in a case the prosecution has the burden to refute self-defense. In other words, the defense does not have to prove self-defense; rather, the prosecution prove an unlawful homicide. Otherwise, it cannot attain a conviction.
Mickey Jordan Case
Mickey Jordan of Enterprise shot a rifle into a vehicle occupied by his nephew, who was attempting to remove a piece of equipment from Jordan’s property. Jordan confronted his nephew and told the nephew to leave the property. The nephew refused. The nephew decided to drive “doughnuts” with his car on Jordan’s property at roughly 20 miles per hour. The nephew’s vehicle was only a few feet away from Jordan and his 14-year-old son. Jordan, fearing for his life, retrieved a rifle and shot in the direction of the vehicle and called the police. A jury found him not guilty on charges of shooting into an occupied vehicle, a felony, because the jury found that he acted in self-defense.
This is an example of using deadly force in self-defense without retreating.
If you have been accused of a felony and feel that you acted in self-defense, contact the Dothan law firm of Parkman White, experienced criminal defense attorneys.