Just Getting Your Gun Not Menacing Per Alabama Appeal

Alabama Supreme Court Holds That Arming Yourself Is Not Menacing in Alabama Appeal

The Alabama Supreme Court has released an Alabama appeal decision holding, as a matter of first impression, that arming oneself with a gun, without more, is not sufficient to constitute the crime of menacing as defined in the Alabama Criminal Code.  Under the Alabama criminal code menacing is where one person takes some physical action with the intent of placing another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury.

In this Alabama appeal, the defendant owned a commercial building, and had recently terminated the lease of his renter. The defendant heard that employees of his former renter were trespassing on the property. The defendant went to the property and confronted the trespassers. The police were called, but soon left the scene, telling the defendant that it was a “civil matter.”

The dispute escalated to the point that the defendant went to his vehicle and retrieved a shotgun. It was disputed whether the defendant actually pointed the shotgun at the trespassers. The defendant was charged with the crime of menacing. He tried his case in the municipal court and was convicted. He appealed the case to the State Circuit Court for a jury trial and was was convicted again. The defendant filed an Alabama appeal, appealed the conviction to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction. The defendant’s appellate attorney filed a Writ of Certiorari to the Alabama Supreme Court asking the Court to review the decision.

The Alabama Supreme Court overturned the conviction. The Alabama Supreme Court noted in the decision that criminal statutes should be strictly construed in favor of defendants. This means that if there is some doubt as to whether an action falls within the criminal statute, the benefit of the doubt should be given to the defendant. The Alabama Supreme Court reviewed the trial transcript and the record on appeal and concluded that simply lawfully arming yourself did not constitute “physical action” as that term is used in the statute. Therefore the defendant getting the gun, without more, was not sufficient to establish the physical action element of menacing. The Alabama Supreme Court reversed the defendant’s conviction.

This Alabama appeal is a good example of the persistence required to obtain success in an appeal. The defendant was convicted at both of his trials in the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction. Still not satisfied with the result of his case, the defendant asked for review by the Alabama Supreme Court. It was not until the case was reviewed by the highest court in Alabama that the defendant was exonerated in his conviction overturned. To obtain such positive results in Alabama appellate attorney has to be persistent and aggressive impressing the case.

If you are facing a situation where you are not satisfied with the result of your trial or the outcome of your case, you should see the assistance and advice of a qualified Alabama appellate attorney. An Alabama appellate attorney can speak with you regarding the matter and advise you whether your case should be appealed, what is required to appeal the case, and give you some idea of the likelihood of success if you appeal your case. The lawyers at Bradford Ladner LLP have successfully handled countless Alabama appeals. We would be more than happy to speak with you regarding your situation.

Ex parte Pate (In re: Pate v. City of Tuscaloosa) Appeal # 1111448, 7/3/2013

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