Stand your ground laws grant wide self-defense rights to people who feel like they are in imminent danger, including the use of deadly force. Not all states have them and some states require people to take certain actions before they are legally permitted to use deadly force without being charged with a violent crime. Alabama has a stand your ground law. Here is a potential example of its use:

Local news reported about a man in Theodore who killed another man on his property. According to him, two men followed his daughter and grandchildren back to his house. They were fighting with her for unknown reasons. The man got a shotgun and warned them off of his property. He fired a warning shot.

When the man turned to leave, that’s when he says he was jumped from behind by the two men. Both of them went after the shotgun. During the struggle, the gun went off and hit one of the two strangers in the neck, killing him at the scene. The homeowner believes that the gunshot was accidental, but that he did feel like his life was in danger.

When the police investigated, the shooter wasn’t arrested though evidence will be presented before a grand jury to see if any other charges need to be filed for the man or for the other stranger, who also avoided arrest at the time of the killing.

Alabama’s stand your ground law has requirements to allow the use of force legally. These include:

  • You can’t be breaking other laws at the time.
  • You can’t use deadly force against a law enforcement officer in the performance of official duties.
  • You need a justifiable reason.

Justifiable reasons, for the majority of the population, include:

  • The other party is about to use unlawful deadly force.
  • Kidnapping, rape, assault, or robbery.
  • Any unlawful and forceful entry into a home or vehicle or removing someone against their will. (Some exceptions apply, like a former resident attempting to re-enter their old home with no legal restrictions saying they can’t.)
  • An owner or employee of a place of business after hours and on the property who gets attacked or robbed.

What makes Alabama’s law a “Stand Your Ground” law is the lack of a “duty to retreat” clause. This lack is what separates stand your ground laws from other state’s statutes regarding the use of deadly force. In states that follow “duty to retreat” rules, you have to try to retreat to a place of safety or otherwise try to de-escalate the situation before violence is justified. You may even have to show that you do not intend to fight. But without it, those who feel threatened at home can defend themselves wherever they are.

If you have been in a situation where Alabama’s stand your ground law may apply, speak with a lawyer immediately to understand your options. Contact the Cochran Firm today, for a free consultation.