Yes. Until recently, this was an undeveloped area of law. On the one hand, the subjective element, what the victim-turned-defendant believed appears to indicate to the contrary. How would a jury determine this without testimony of the defendant?
Nevertheless, on June 2, 2011, the Court of Appeals handed down Ault v. State. In this case, Ault was accused and convicted of murder from shooting a man named Parrish. At trial, he elected to exercise his right to remain silent and not testify.
The trial court judge indicated it would not instruct the jury on self-defense so Ault testified and was convicted. On appeal, Ault claimed the trial court abused its discretion denying his request to instruct the jury on self-defense. This thus had the net result of denying his fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The Court of Appeals agreed. This is because juries routinely draw inferences about an individual’s subjective state of mind. Such occurs whether the defendant provides his or her individual and personal insight into his actual state of mind.
Ultimately, a person may exercise deadly force, claim it was justified by the self-defense statute, and have a jury instructed about self-defense. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates hope this post helps educate readers about deadly force and self-defense. With prudence, and by thinking ahead, it his our hope you do not find yourself in need of such instruction.