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Self-Defense in Indiana - Does the Defendant have to testify?

The Self-Defense statute in Indiana requires both a subjective belief that the use of force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury and that this belief was one that a reasonable person would have under the circumstances. Self-defense arguments are usually raissed in cases involving Battery or Manslaughter. A judge or jury can infer the Defendant's subjective state of mind from the facts and circumstances. So, is it necessary for the Defendant to testify about his or her state of mind? Not in Indiana.

In Ault v. State, (Ind. Ct. App. June 2, 2011), the Court of Appeals determined that the trial court abused its discretion by requiring the Defendant to testify in order to obtain a jury instruction regarding Self-Defense. In Ault, the State's case established that the victim drove to Ault's house, came on Ault's property and threatened Ault. The victim removed his coat and told Ault that he was going to attack him "now." Ault then shot the victim in the head. The Court of Appeals determined that these facts alone were adequate to support a reasonable inference regarding the subjective component of the self-defense argument.

If you have questions about self-defense or other criminal law issues, please contact Gregory A. Miller, a Fort Wayne Criminal Defense Attorney, at (260) 426-6666.