Alabama legislators in 2006 enacted Stand Your Ground, which made key changes to the state's self-defense law. The law has been used successfully by some charged with violent crimes to win acquittals, some defense attorneys say.
Here's a capsulized look at that law, a change that was made in 2013, and what the old law said about some of the key provisions on duty to retreat.
Alabama's 2006 Stand Your Ground law:
A person still must have a justifiable reason for using physical force and can't be the original aggressor. But there is no longer a duty to retreat.
Physical force is not justified if the person is engaged in an unlawful activity or the person they are using the defensive force against is a law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his or her official duty.
So when is it justified?
A person is justified in using deadly physical force if they believe the other person is:
About to use unlawful deadly physical force.
A burglar about to use physical force.
Engaged in kidnapping, assault, robbery, or rape.
Unlawfully and forcefully entering a home or car, or attempting to remove a person against their will. (There are exceptions for people who used to live there and are under no injunctions or domestic protection orders.)
Breaking into a nuclear power plant.
2013 addition by Alabama Legislature
A person is also justified in the use of deadly force against someone who is "using or about to use physical force against an owner, employee, or other person authorized to be on business property when the business is closed to the public while committing or attempting to commit a crime involving death, serious physical injury, robbery, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, or a crime of a sexual nature involving a child under the age of 12.
Alabama's self-defense law prior to 2006:
A person was not justified in using deadly physical force upon another if it reasonably appeared he or she could avoid the necessity of using such force "with complete safety." But a person was not required to retreat "if he is in his dwelling or at his place of work and was not the original aggressor.
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