You Have the Right to Defend Yourself
When it comes down to it, you have the right to defend yourself from physical harm. If you injure or kill someone who attacked you, you may be protected by the self-defense laws in Alabama. If you were involved in a self-defense situation, you may be wondering what your options are and the best course of action to protect your freedom, your assets, and your reputation.
What is Assault?
Cornell Law School defines assault as an intentional act that puts another person in reasonable apprehension of harmful intent or offensive contact. Many people erroneously view assault as physical harm to another, which is not the case. A physical injury is not required for an act to be considered an assault. The mere threat of harm can be seen as assault.
Assault requires intent. The harmful act was not accidental. If the act was intended to scare or harm someone else, even if the violator did not actually mean to harm another, the act may be considered assault.
If the victim of assault believed that the act was meant to cause harm, the act may be considered assault. Keep in mind the victim does not need to prove fear. They only need to prove that harm may occur. Factors such as how well the violator and the victim know each other may come into question when determining assault.
The threat of harm must be imminent. The victim of assault must be certain that harm is very likely to occur and very likely to happen immediately.
What is Self Defense?
Cornell Law defines self-defense as the use of force to protect oneself from an attempted injury by another. Justified self-defense is used as a defense for a number of crimes, including assault, murder, and battery.
A self-defense defense essentially turns the tables for the plaintiff and the defendant. If you can prove that your use of force was for self-defense reasons, it can help you avoid costly fines, and jail and maintain your legal record.
When is the use of Physical Force Considered Self-Defense?
Alabama Code 1975, § 13A-3-23 recognizes self-defense under the following conditions:
- You reasonably believe someone is using or about to use unlawful deadly force.
- You reasonably believe someone is using or about to use physical force against the occupant of a dwelling while committing or attempting to commit a burglary.
- You reasonably believe someone is committing or about to commit a kidnapping, assault, burglary, robbery, rape, or sodomy.
- You reasonably believe someone is using or about to use physical force against an owner, employees, or other authorized personnel on a business’ property while committing a crime.
- You reasonably believe someone is in the process of unlawfully entering or has unlawfully entered a residence, business property, occupied vehicle, or a federally licensed nuclear plant or is in the process of attempting to remove a person against their will from their property.
What is not Justifiable Self-Defense?
To attempt to claim self-defense, the claimant must prove that they were in imminent danger that was readily present, as well as express a reasonable fear of harm. This is very similar to proving assault; however, there is an additional layer to proving justified self-defense, which is a proportionate response. When defending yourself, your response must be proportionate to the level of aggression.
The same Alabama code asserts that physical force is not justified for the following reasons:
- The person whom the defensive force was used against is a resident of the dwelling or vehicle, and there is no injunction stemming from domestic violence.
- The Person being removed from a dwelling is a child, grandchild, or in the lawful custody or guardianship of the person against whom the defense force was used.
- The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an illegal activity or using their dwelling or vehicle for illegal activity.
- You can not claim self-defense if you assault law enforcement doing their official duties.
Furthermore, you do not have the right to use physical force in self-defense if you instigated the use of physical force by another person with the intent of causing them harm.
You also can not claim self-defense if you and the other party were involved in a combat-by-agreement situation that was not authorized by law.
Stand Your Ground Laws in Alabama
Alabama has what is known as “stand your ground” laws. These laws state that you do not have the duty to retreat, even if it is safe to do so, and you have the right to stand your ground as long as you are justified in using physical force and are not engaged in an illegal activity.
Essentially, if you are somewhere you are legally allowed to be, you may be able to claim self-defense for the use of physical force, deadly or not.
Know When to Hire a Lawyer
Whether or not someone died due to you defending yourself, you need a lawyer. Do not speak with the police without a lawyer, do not make agreements without a lawyer, do not attempt to defend yourself in the eyes of the law without a lawyer.
A strong legal defense can solidify your self-defense claim. The attorneys of The Hazzard Law Firm, LLC are knowledgeable with the laws surrounding assaults and self-defense. Like any other legal case, having a lawyer as soon as possible in the legal process is essential for proving your use of justified physical force. The lawyers of The Hazzard Law Firm, LLC will help you build a strong self-defense case with the use of evidence as well as defending against evidence that may be false, and helping you keep a cool, level head.
Call the office of The Hazzard Law Firm, LLC at 205-881-5641 to schedule your consultation. You can also contact us online here by submitting a quick form.