When is Homicide Justifiable in Louisiana?: An Example

A recent case of justifiable homicide took place in 2011 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury decided not to indict Richard Alexander with manslaughter for the killing of Keith Brown.  Alexander was arrested for manslaughter after he chased an alleged burglar from his home and fatally shot him in the driveway.

Alexander was inside his home in January 2011, at about 10:30 p.m. when Brown kicked down the door and entered Alexander’s home, according to police records.

Alexander, armed with a gun, confronted Brown, chasing him through the house, out the back door and down the driveway. According to Alexander, Brown allegedly pulled at the waistline of his pants, and Alexander began shooting.

Police said at the time of Alexander’s arrest, investigators considered Alexander’s actions criminal because Brown was no longer a threat as he was running from Alexander’s home.  However, one might assume that Brown, by not surrendering and also allegedly pulling at the waistline of his pants, indicated that he might intend to turn around and assault the victim.

Alexander was protected under Louisiana’s Castle Doctrine, which gets its meaning from the phrase “a man’s home is his castle.”   This doctrine permits the use of physical force to protect one’s self and property from forcible crimes and the use of deadly force in situations where circumstances are sufficient to excite the fear of a reasonable person that there would be serious danger to his own life or person if he attempted to prevent the felony without the killing.  To read further on justifiable homicide in Louisiana, click here.

If you are facing manslaughter charges in Louisiana, contact Baton Rouge Manslaughter Lawyer Carl Barkemeyer.

Source: The Advocate, “Panel declines to indict homeowner in killing,” April 27, 2012.

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When is Homicide Justifiable in Louisiana?

State Representative Roy Burrell, D-Shreveport, is the sponsor of a bill that would rewrite the state’s justifiable homicide law to no longer allow self-defense to be claimed when someone kills with pursuit.

The proposals stem from the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, by George Zimmerman a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.  Florida authorities chose not to prosecute Zimmerman because of the state’s “stand your ground” law, which does not require someone to retreat during a conflict.

Under Burrell’s bill, if there was pursuit, then there could be no claims of self-defense.  For example, Zimmerman would be unable to claim justifiable homicide if a conflict occurred, Martin walked away, and Zimmerman pursued and killed him.

Currently, in Louisiana a homicide is justifiable:

(1)  When committed in self-defense by one who reasonably believes that he is in imminent danger of losing his life or receiving great bodily harm and that the killing is necessary to save himself from that danger.

(2)   When committed for the purpose of preventing a violent or forcible felony involving danger to life or of great bodily harm by one who reasonably believes that such an offense is about to be committed and that such action is necessary for its prevention.  The circumstances must be sufficient to excite the fear of a reasonable person that there would be serious danger to his own life or person if he attempted to prevent the felony without the killing.

(3)   When committed against a person whom one reasonably believes to be likely to use any unlawful force against a person present in a dwelling or a place of business.

(4)  When committed by a person lawfully inside a dwelling, a place of business, or a motor vehicle, against a person who is attempting to make an unlawful entry into the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle, or who has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle, and the person committing the homicide reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the entry or to compel the intruder to leave the premises or motor vehicle.

Furthermore, a person lawfully inside a dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle held a reasonable belief that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent unlawful entry thereto, or to compel an unlawful intruder to leave the premises or motor vehicle, if both of the following occur:

(1)  The person against whom deadly force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering or had unlawfully and forcibly entered the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle.

(2)  The person who used deadly force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry was occurring or had occurred.

(3)  A person who is not engaged in unlawful activity and who is in a place where he or she has a right to be shall have no duty to retreat before using deadly force, and may stand his or her ground and meet force with force.

Another law that relates to justifiable homicide concerns the defense of others.  The law states that it is justifiable to use force or violence or to kill in the defense of another person when it is reasonably apparent that the person attacked could have justifiably used such means himself, and when it is reasonably believed that such intervention is necessary to protect the other person.

Also, Louisiana law says that the aggressor cannot claim self-defense.  To illustrate, a person who is the aggressor cannot claim the right of self-defense unless he withdraws from the conflict in good faith and in such a manner that his rival knows or should know that he desires to withdraw and discontinue the conflict.

If you are facing criminal charges, contact Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Attorney Carl Barkemeyer to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

 

DISCLAIMER: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship.

 

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Hiring the Best Louisiana Criminal Defense Attorney is More Important than Ever

Times Picayune writer Jarvis DeBerry brought up an interesting point recently in one of his articles.  He suggests that judges have lost some sentencing power to prosecutors due to a couple of Louisiana laws.  Below is a summary of his article.

Cornell Hood was initially given a life sentence last year for a fourth conviction for marijuana possession. (Click here for a video that describes the penalties associated with possession of marijuana in Louisiana.)  Because of the multiple-offender statute, judges have to follow the prosecutors’ lead. Consequently, the judge had to agree with the prosecutors’ plan to send Hood to prison for life. However, after a public outcry, prosecutors reduced Hood’s sentence to 25 years.

After writing $7,681 in worthless checks over a three-year period, and three convictions, Melissa Harris was facing 20 years to life for forging a $200 check. The church that was defrauded by Harris interceded on her behalf. After that, the prosecutor decided that the she should only serve 10 years in prison.

Brian Martin was sentenced to 24 years in prison for a second car burglary conviction. (Click here for more information regarding burglary laws in Louisiana.)  Lucky for Martin, prosecutors ignored similar prior convictions in Beauregard Parish, or he could have been sent away for life.

Click here to read a previous blog post about harsh sentences for prior drug convictions in Livingston Parish.

One of the roles of judges is to use their best judgment to sentence convicted criminals. DeBerry suggests that judges have lost some of this discretion because of Louisiana laws that impose minimum sentences and multiple-offender statutes that hand over much of the sentencing power to prosecutors.  If judges have lost some discretion in sentencing, criminal defense attorneys play an important role in negotiating plea bargains.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, be sure to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, who can negotiate the best possible deal.  Contact Baton Rouge Criminal Defense Attorney Carl Barkemeyer to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

Source: www. Nola.com, “Sentencing ought to be put back in judges’ hands: Jarvis DeBerry,” April 3, 2012.

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