Contents of the ALABAMA.TXT file
ALABAMA DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
(Article I of the 1901 Constitution of Alabama)
As amended through 1966
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
That the great, general, and essential principles of liberty
and free government may be recognized and established, we
Sec. 1 That all men are equally free and independent; that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that
among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Sec. 2 That all political power is inherent in the people, and all free
governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for
their benefit; and that, therefore, they have at all times an
inalienable and indefeasible right to change their form of gov-
ernment in such manner as they may deem expedient.
Sec. 3 That no religion shall be established by law; that no preference
shall be given by law to any religious sect, society, denomina-
tion, or mode of worship; that no one shall be compelled by law
to attend any place of worship; nor to pay any tithes, taxes, or
other rate for building or repairing any place of worship, or for
maintaining any minister or ministry; that no religious test
shall be required as a qualification to any office or public
trust under this state; and that the civil rights, privileges,
and capacities of any citizen shall not be in any manner affected
by his religious principles.
Sec. 4 That no law shall ever be passed to curtail or restrain the
liberty of speech or of the press; and any person may speak,
write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being respons-
ible for the abuse of that liberty. And, to guard against any
encroachments on the rights herein retained, we declare that
everything in this Declaration of Rights is excepted out of the
general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate.
Sec. 5 That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
and possessions from unreasonable seizure or searches, and that
no warrants shall issue to search any place or to seize any
person or thing without probable cause, supported by oath or
Sec. 6 That in all criminal prosecutions, the accused has a right to be
heard by himself and counsel, or either; to demand the nature and
cause of the accusation; and to have a copy thereof; to be con-
fronted by the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process
for obtaining witnesses in his favor; to testify in all cases, in
his own behalf, if he elects so to do; and, in all prosecutions
by indictment, a speedy, public trial, by an impartial jury of
the county or district in which the offense was committed; and he
shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself, nor be
deprived of life, liberty, or property, except by due process of
law; but the legislature may, by a general law, provide for a
change of venue at the instance of the defendant in all prose-
cutions by indictment, and such change of venue, on application
of the defendant, may be heard and determined without the per-
sonal presence of the defendant so applying therefor; provided,
that at the time of the application for the change of venue, the
defendant is imprisoned in jail or some legal place of confine-
Sec. 7 That no person shall be accused or arrested, or detained, except
in cases ascertained by law, and according to the form which the
same has prescribed; and no person shall be punished but by
virtue of a law established and promulgated prior to the offense
and legally applied.
Sec. 8 No person shall for any indictable offense be proceeded against
criminally by information, except in cases arising in the militia
and volunteer forces when in actual service, or when assembled
under arms as a military organization, or, by leave of the court,
for misfeasance, misdemeanor, extortion and oppression in office,
otherwise than is provided in the Constitution; provided, that in
cases of misdemeanor, the legislature may by law dispense with a
grand jury and authorize such prosecutions and proceedings before
justices of the peace or such other inferior courts as may be by
law established. Provided further that in all felony cases, ex-
cept those punishable by capital punishment, the legislature may
by law dispense with a grand jury and authorize such prosecutions
and proceedings in such manner as may be provided by law if the
defendant, after having had the advice of counsel of his choice
or in the event he is unable to employ counsel, the advice of
counsel which must be appointed by the court, makes known in open
court to a judge of a court having jurisdiction of the offense
that he desires to plead guilty, provided, however, the defendant
cannot plead guilty within fifteen days after his arrest.
Sec. 9 That no person shall, for the same offense, be twice put in
jeopardy of life or limb; but courts may, for reasons fixed by
law, discharge juries from the consideration of any case, and no
person shall gain an advantage by reason of such discharge of the
Sec. 10 That no person shall be barred from prosecuting or defending
before any tribunal in this state, by himself or counsel, any
civil cause to which he is a party.
Sec. 11 That the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.
Sec. 12 That in all prosecution for libel or for the publication of
papers investigating the official conduct of officers or men in
public capacity, or when the matter published is proper for
public information, the truth thereof may be given in evidence;
and that in all indictments for libel, the jury shall have the
right to determine the law and the facts under the direction of
Sec. 13 That all courts shall be open; and that every person, for any
injury done him, in his lands, goods, person, or reputation,
shall have a remedy by due process of law; and right and justice
shall be administered without sale, denial, or delay.
Sec. 14 That the State of Alabama shall never be made a defendant in any
court of law or equity.
Sec. 15 That excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel or unusual
Sec. 16 That all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by suf-
ficient sureties, except for capital offenses, when the proof is
evident or the presumption great; and that excessive bail shall
not in any case be required.
Sec. 17 That the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be sus-
pended by the authorities of this state.
Sec. 18 That treason against the state shall consist only in levying war
against it, or adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and com-
fort; and that no person shall be convicted of treason, except on
the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or his own
confession in open court.
Sec. 19 That no person shall be attainted of treason by the legislature;
and no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of
Sec. 20 That no person shall be imprisoned for debt.
Sec. 21 That no power of suspending laws shall be exercised except by the
Sec. 22 That no ex post facto law, nor any law, impairing the obligations
of contracts, or making any irrevocable or exclusive grants of
special privileges or immunities, shall be passed by the legisla-
ture; and every grant or franchise, privilege, or immunity shall
forever remain subject to revocation, alteration, or amendment.
Sec. 23 That the exercise of the right of eminent domain shall never be
abridged nor so construed as to prevent the legislature from
taking the property and franchises of incorporated companies, and
subjecting them to public use in the same manner in which the
property and franchises of individuals are taken and subjected;
but private property shall not be taken for, or applied to public
use, unless just compensation be first made therefor; nor shall
private property be taken for private use, or for the use of
corporations, other than municipal, without the consent of the
owner; provided, however, the legislature may by law secure to
persons or corporations the right of way over the lands of other
persons or corporations, and by general laws provide for and
regulate the exercise by persons and corporations of the rights
herein reserved; but just compensation shall, in all cases, be
first made to the owner; and, provided, that the right of eminent
domain shall not be so construed as to allow taxation or forced
subscription for the benefit of railroads or any other kind of
corporations, other than municipal, or for the benefit of any
individual or association.
Sec. 24 That all navigable waters shall remain forever public highways,
free to the citizens of the state and the United States, without
tax, impost, or toll; and that no tax, toll, impost, or wharfage
shall be demanded or received from the owner of any merchandise
or commodity for the use of the shores or any wharf erected on
the shores , or in or over the waters of any navigable streams,
unless the same be expressly authorized by law.
Sec. 25 That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assem-
ble together for the common good, and to apply to those invested
with the power of government for redress of grievances or other
purposes, by petition, address, or remonstrance.
Sec. 26 That every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself
and the state.
Sec. 27 That no standing army shall be kept up without the consent of the
legislature, and, in that case, no appropriation for its support
shall be made for a longer term than one year; and the military
shall, in all cases, and at all times, be in strict subordination
to the civil power.
Sec. 28 That no soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any
house without the consent of the owner; nor, in time of war, but
in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Sec. 29 That no title of nobility or hereditary distinction, privilege,
honor, or emolument shall every be granted or conferred in this
state; and that no office shall be created, the appointment to
which shall be for a longer time than during good behavior.
Sec. 30 That immigration shall be encouraged; emigration shall not be
prohibited, and no citizen shall be exiled.
Sec. 31 That temporary absence from the state shall not cause a forfeit-
ure of residence once obtained.
Sec. 32 That no form of slavery shall exist in this state; and there
shall not be any involuntary servitude, otherwise than for the
punishment of crime, of which the party shall have been duly
Sec. 3. The privilege of suffrage shall be protected by laws regulating
elections, and prohibiting, under adequate penalties, all undue
influences from power, bribery, tumult, or other improper
Sec. 34 Foreigners who are, or may hereafter become, bona fide residents
of this state, shall enjoy the same rights in respect to the
possession, enjoyment, and inheritance of property, as native
Sec. 35 That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to
protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and pro-
perty, and when the government assumes other functions it is
usurpation and oppression.
Sec. 36 That this enumeration of certain rights shall not impair or deny
others retained by the people;