LA § 6:14 Self-defense—Other than homicide cases
Louisiana Criminal Jury Instructions (2017)
§6:14 Self-defense: Other than homicide cases
The use of force or violence upon the person of another is justifiable for the purpose of preventing a forcible offense against one’s own person if the force used is reasonable and apparently necessary to prevent the offense.
[A person who is not engaged in any unlawful activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat before using force or violence for the purpose of preventing a forcible offense against his or her own person. In such circumstances, a person may stand his or her ground and meet force with force. The possibility of retreat shall not be considered as a factor in determining whether or not the person had a reasonable belief that the use of force or violence was reasonable and apparently necessary to prevent the forcible offense against his or her person.]
Thus, if you find:
(1) that the defendant committed the offense charged for the purpose of presenting a forcible offense against his person; and
(2) that the amount of force or violence used was reasonable; and
(3) that the force or violence used was apparently necessary to prevent the forcible offense; then you must find the defendant not guilty.
The courts of appeal continue to be divided regarding the burden of proof of self-defense in non-homicide cases. The Second and Fifth Circuit continue to provide that the defendant must bear the burden of proving self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence in non-homicide situations. See State v. Rainey, 722 So. 2d 1097 (La. Ct. App. 5th Cir. 1998), (discussing split in the circuits on this issue); State v. Taylor, 874 So. 2d 297 (La. Ct. App. 5th Cir. 2004); State v. Hall, 889 So. 2d 1034 (La. Ct. app. 5th Cir. 2004); State v. Richardson, 896 So. 2d 247 (La. Ct. App. 2d Cir. 2005); State v. Cheatham, 877 So. 2d 164 (La. Ct. App. 2d Cir. 2004). However, the courts of appeal are consistent with the view that in homicide cases, the burden falls on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense, citing Wiley v. Rapides Regional Medical Center, 847 So. 2d 752 (La. Ct. App. 3d Cir. 2003). See State v. Cheatham, above; State v. Taylor, above; State v. Miller, 868 So. 2d 239 (La. Ct. App. 2d Cir. 2004).
In cases involving the use of force or violence by persons “lawfully inside a dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle,” the trial court should modify the instruction as follows:
I. If you find that
(1) the defendant was lawfully inside a [dwelling][place of business][motor vehicle] and
(2) the person against whom the force or violence was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering or had unlawfully and forcibly entered the [dwelling][place of business][motor vehicle] and
(3) the defendant knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry was occurring or had occurred,
you should [must] presume that the defendant held a reasonable belief that the use of force or violence was necessary to prevent unlawful entry thereto [or compel the intruder to leave the [premises]][motor vehicle].]
II. If you find that the defendant was not engaged in unlawful activity and was in a place where he [she] had a right to be, the defendant had not duty to retreat before using force or violence and had the right to stand his [her] ground and meet force with force.
III. If you find that the defendant used force or violence in defense of his [her] person or property, you shall not condiser the possibility of retreat as a factor in determining whether or not the defendant had a reasonable belief that such force or violence was reasonably and apparently necessary to prevent the forcible offense or prevent the unlawful entry.