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Bill to justify deadly force

By Chasity Brown

Rep. Albert Hall and Sen. Jeff Enfinger are sponsoring a bill that would expand citizens’ rights to use self defense in the state of Alabama.

The bill has been pre-filed for the upcoming 2006 regular session of the legislature. Hall said that 60 co-sponsors have joined him in support of this bill.

“Your home is the family castle and refuge; this bill will give the citizens a right to protect and defend their home from intruders and themselves from possible subsequent litigation,” Hall stated.

Hall said if the governor calls another special session prior to the regular session, he plans to ask the governor to include this bill in the call.

The bill would expand the circumstances under which a person may use force, including deadly force, to defend himself or herself or another person against an aggressor. The bill would make legal presumptions that a person is justified in using deadly force against an aggressor and would not require a person to retreat from an aggressor intruding into an dwelling, residence or vehicle.

Also, the bill would provide immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for persons justified in using defensive force against an aggressor and would allow the court to award certain fees and expenses to persons immune from civil action if they were sued.

According to the bill, a person would be justified “in using physical force to defend himself or herself or another person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person and may use a degree of force which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary or the purpose.”

The bill states that a person is legally presumed to be justified in using deadly physical force in self-defense or in defense of another person if they believe the aggressor is:

“•Using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force;

•Using or about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling while committing or attempting to commit a burglary;

•Committing or about to commit a kidnapping in any degree, assault in the first or second degree, burglary in any degree, robbery in any degree, forcible rape or forcible sodomy;

•In the process of unlawfully or forcefully entering or has unlawfully and forcefully entered a dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle, or 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 and provided that the person using the deadly force knows or has reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act is occurring or has occurred.”

The legal assumption that a person using deadly physical force is justified does not apply if the person against whom the action was taken has a legal right to be in the dwelling, is under the lawful custody of the person against whom action was taken, is engaged in an illegal act or the person against whom action was taken is a law enforcement officer acting in his official duties.

A person is also not justified in using physical force if it could reasonably have been avoided by retreating. A person is not required to retreat if they are in their own dwelling or place of work and were not the original aggressor, is a peace officer or is defending against an unlawful forcible entry.

A person is not justified in using physical force if they provoke unlawful physical force in the other person or the physical force was a product of a combat by agreement by the participants.

The bill would also allow the court to award “reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by a defendant of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from civil action.”

The bill is set to become effective on Oct. 1, 2006 following its passage and approval by the governor or its otherwise becoming law.

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