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How can self-defense factor in with criminal charges in Alabama?

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2021 | Criminal Law

In Alabama, being charged with a crime will undoubtedly lead to fear and concern as to what the future might hold. A conviction for any crime will have ramifications, but if it is a violent crime like assault, there might be an extended incarceration, significant fines and long-term problems. Even after the person completes a sentence, it might hinder their attempts at creating a prosperous future.

A common strategy that is used – and can work – is if the accused person says the assault was done only in self-defense. This is not a denial, but an explanation as to why a person who otherwise would not have behaved in such a way did so. For people who are charged with assault and are considering how to wage a strong defense, self-defense could be a viable way to go about it.

What does Alabama law say about violence in self-defense?

In Alabama law, people who are charged with a violent crime can claim self-defense in certain circumstances. This can reach the level of deadly physical force. If, for example, the victim is going to use deadly physical force on his or her own, the other person can use that same level of force in response. This can also happen during a burglary. If the person who was assaulted was going to commit kidnapping, first or second-degree assault, burglary, rape or sodomy, it is then it is allowable to use deadly physical force to stop it.

The above crimes occurring against a business owner, an employee or anyone else who can legally be on the business property when it is closed can also warrant deadly physical force in self-defense. Anyone who forces his or her way into a home, business, occupied vehicle and other locations to commit a crime can be subject to violent assault. Alabama also has the stand your ground rule where a person is not legally required to retreat when there is some form of attack.

People cannot cite self-defense if they intended to cause the injuries to the other person, were the aggressor or if the combat was an agreement between the sides and not allowable under the law. A fundamental note about self-defense is that when it is used in a case, the burden of proof falls on the prosecution to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the act was not in self-defense. That means that the tables are turned in terms of proving the case.

When considering self-defense, having professional advice is key

Self-defense is a worthwhile avenue to explore when forging a criminal defense for a violent crime. Of course, it depends on the circumstances. Even if self-defense is not a viable option as part of a defense, there are other avenues that might be effective. The evidence in the case could be weak with a lack of physical proof. A victim who has been caught exaggerating or outright lying could be unreliable. Or there might be technical aspects that lead to reasonable doubt or the charges being dropped. Before simply accepting the charges and the legal consequences, weighing the available alternatives to try and achieve a positive result is crucial. From the start, it is useful to think about the various strategies that can be effective for a successful outcome.