Declaration of Rights


Equality and rights of men.

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.


People source of power.

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 government in such manner as they may deem expedient.


Religious freedom.

That no religion shall be established by law; that no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect, society, denomination, 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.


Freedom of speech and press.

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 responsible for the abuse of that liberty.


Unreasonable search and seizure; search warrants.

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 affirmation.


Rights of persons in criminal prosecutions generally; self-incrimination; due process of law; right to speedy, public trial; change of venue.

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 confronted 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 prosecutions by indictment, and such change of venue, on application of the defendant, may be heard and determined without the personal 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 confinement.


Accusation, arrest and detention; punishment limited to laws established prior to offense.

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.


Proceeding against person by information; grand jury not required in misdemeanor cases.

That 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.


Double jeopardy; discharge of juries from cases.

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 jury.


Right to prosecute civil cause.

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.


Right to trial by jury.

That the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.


Prosecutions for libel or for publication of papers investigating official conduct of public officers.

That in all prosecutions 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 the court.


Courts to be open; remedies for all injuries; impartiality of justice.

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.


State not to be made defendant.

That the State of Alabama shall never be made a defendant in any court of law or equity.


Excessive fines; cruel or unusual punishment.

That excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment inflicted.


Right to bail; excessive bail.

That all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient 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.


Suspension of habeas corpus.

That the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended by the authorities of this state.


Treason against the state.

That treason against the state shall consist only in levying war against it, or adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort; 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.


Bills of attainder of treason by legislature prohibited; conviction not to work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.

That no person shall be attained of treason by the legislature; and no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.


Imprisonment for debts.

That no person shall be imprisoned for debt.


Suspension of laws.

That no power of suspending laws shall be exercised except by the legislature.


Ex post facto laws; impairment of obligations of contracts; irrevocable or exclusive grants of special privileges or immunities.

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 legislature; and every grant or franchise, privilege, or immunity shall forever remain subject to revocation, alteration, or amendment.


Eminent domain.

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.


Navigable waters declared free public highways; taxes, tolls, etc., for use of shores or wharves.

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.


Right to peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances, etc.

That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble 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.


Right to bear arms.

That every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.


Standing army; military subordinate to civil power.

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.


Quartering of soldiers in houses.

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.


Titles of nobility, hereditary distinction, etc.; restriction on appointments to office.

That no title of nobility or hereditary distinction, privilege, honor, or emolument shall ever 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.


Immigration, emigration and exile.

That immigration shall be encouraged; emigration shall not be prohibited, and no citizen shall be exiled.


Residence not forfeited by temporary absence from state.

That temporary absence from the state shall not cause a forfeiture of residence once obtained.


Slavery prohibited; involuntary servitude.

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 convicted.


Protection of suffrage.

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 conduct.


Property rights of aliens.

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 born citizens.


Objective of government.

That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.


Construction of Declaration of Rights.

That this enumeration of certain rights shall not impair or deny others retained by the people; 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.