The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Tactics and Training

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old June 24, 2009, 02:28 PM   #1
Ricky B
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 3, 2002
Posts: 251
California law on self-defense, defense of property, etc.

When a case goes to a jury, the judge instructs the jury on the elements of the offense, that is, what the prosecutor has to prove, and also, if applicable, on the defenses that the defendant may have. Some of the defenses pertinent to this forum are self-defense, defense of property, ejecting a trespasser, and the like. The instructions reflect the law embodied in CA stautes and appellate decisions and are an effort by the courts to make the law understandable to the lay people on the jury who are charged with applying the law to the facts in the case.

I thought it would be helpful for the forum members who want to conform their tactics to the law to have this information handy. Although this is specific to CA, and the law may vary from state to state, being guided by these principles is better than being ignorant or being misguided by the rants of a few. Using these instructions, you may be better able to find out how the law in your state varies.

In particular cases, the instructions will be modified to conform to the factual issues. For example, the instructions that are enclosed in brackets typically won't be given if there is no evidence to justify giving them. The instructions here are simply a model for the court (and the lawyers) to start with. The prosecutor and defense counsel often ask the court to tailor the instructions to the case at issue. Not all these instructions would be given in one case. Only instructions relevant to the facts should be given.

Keep in mind that juries vary too, both in composition from trial to trial, and more importantly, by state and locale. What a jury in rural Texas thinks is "reasonable force" may not be what a jury in San Francisco thinks is "reasonable force."

For those who want to delve deeper, I am providing the link to the entire set of criminal jury instructions:

http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/jury/cri...im_juryins.pdf

This is a big download, over 2400 pages and 7.7 megs, but it includes not only all the instructions for criminal cases but also bench notes and case citations.

For those who want the short and sweet version, here it is:

HOMICIDE

A. GENERAL PRINCIPLES

500. Homicide: General Principles
501–504. Reserved for Future Use

B. JUSTIFICATIONS AND EXCUSES


505. Justifiable Homicide: Self-Defense or Defense of Another

The defendant is not guilty of (murder/ [or] manslaughter/attempted murder/ [or] attempted voluntary manslaughter) if (he/she) was justified in (killing/attempting to kill) someone in (self-defense/[or] defense of another). The defendant acted in lawful (self-defense/ [or] defense of another) if:

1. The defendant reasonably believed that (he/she/ [or] someone else/ [or] <insert name or description of third party>) was in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily injury [or was in imminent danger of being (raped/maimed/robbed/ <insert other forcible and atrocious crime>)];

2. The defendant reasonably believed that the immediate use of deadly force was necessary to defend against that danger;

AND

3. The defendant used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.

Belief in future harm is not sufficient, no matter how great or how likely the harm is believed to be. The defendant must have believed there was imminent danger of great bodily injury to (himself/herself/ [or] someone else). Defendant’s belief must have been reasonable and (he/she) must have acted only because of that belief. The defendant is only entitled to use that amount of force that a reasonable person would believe is necessary in the same situation. If the defendant used more force than was reasonable, the [attempted] killing was not justified.

When deciding whether the defendant’s beliefs were reasonable, consider all the circumstances as they were known to and appeared to the defendant and consider what a reasonable person in a similar situation with similar knowledge would have believed. If the defendant’s beliefs were reasonable, the danger does not need to have actually existed.

[The defendant’s belief that (he/she/ [or] someone else) was threatened may be reasonable even if (he/she) relied on information that was not true. However, the defendant must actually and reasonably have believed that the information was true.]

[If you find that <insert name of decedent/victim> threatened or harmed the defendant [or others] in the past, you may consider that information in deciding whether the defendant’s conduct and beliefs were reasonable.]

[If you find that the defendant knew that <insert name of decedent/victim> had threatened or harmed others in the past, you may consider that information in deciding whether the defendant’s conduct and beliefs were reasonable.]

[Someone who has been threatened or harmed by a person in the past, is justified in acting more quickly or taking greater selfdefense measures against that person.]

[If you find that the defendant received a threat from someone else that (he/she) reasonably associated with <insert name of decedent/victim>, you may consider that threat in deciding whether the defendant was justified in acting in (self-defense/ [or] defense of another).]

[A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of (death/great bodily injury/ <insert forcible and atrocious crime>) has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.]

[Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm.]

The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the [attempted] killing was not justified. If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant not guilty of (murder/ [or] manslaughter/ attempted murder/ [or] attempted voluntary manslaughter).


DEFENSES AND INSANITY
3470. Right to Self-Defense or Defense of Another (Non-Homicide)
3471. Right to Self-Defense: Mutual Combat or Initial Aggressor
3475. Right to Eject Trespasser From Real Property
3476. Right to Defend Real or Personal Property

D. SELF-DEFENSE AND DEFENSE OF ANOTHER

3470. Right to Self-Defense or Defense of Another (Non-Homicide)

Self-defense is a defense to <insert list of pertinent crimes charged>. The defendant is not guilty of (that/those crime[s]) if (he/she) used force against the other person in lawful (self-defense/ [or] defense of another). The defendant acted in lawful (self-defense/ [or] defense of another) if:

1. The defendant reasonably believed that (he/she/ [or] someone else/ [or] <insert name of third party>) was in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury [or was in imminent danger of being touched unlawfully];

2. The defendant reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger;

AND

3. The defendant used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.

Belief in future harm is not sufficient, no matter how great or how likely the harm is believed to be.

The defendant must have believed there was imminent danger of violence to (himself/herself/ [or] someone else).

Defendant’s belief must have been reasonable and (he/she) must have acted because of that belief.

The defendant is only entitled to use that amount of force that a reasonable person would believe is necessary in the same situation. If the defendant used more force than was reasonable, the defendant did not act in lawful (self-defense/ [or] defense of another).

When deciding whether the defendant’s beliefs were reasonable, consider all the circumstances as they were known to and appeared to the defendant and consider what a reasonable person in a similar situation with similar knowledge would have believed. If the defendant’s beliefs were reasonable, the danger does not need to have actually existed.

[The defendant’s belief that (he/she/ [or] someone else) was threatened may be reasonable even if (he/she) relied on information that was not true. However, the defendant must actually and reasonably have believed that the information was true.] [Ricky B note: This instruction, being bracketed, won't be given unless there is sufficient evidence of a threat.]

[If you find that <insert name of victim> threatened or harmed the defendant [or others] in the past, you may consider that information in deciding whether the defendant’s conduct and beliefs were reasonable.]

[If you find that the defendant knew that <insert name of victim> had threatened or harmed others in the past, you may consider that information in deciding whether the defendant’s conduct and beliefs were reasonable.]

[Someone who has been threatened or harmed by a person in the past is justified in acting more quickly or taking greater selfdefense measures against that person.]

[If you find that the defendant received a threat from someone else that (he/she) reasonably associated with <insert name of victim>, you may consider that threat in deciding whether the defendant was justified in acting in (self-defense/ [or] defense of another).]

[A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of (death/bodily injury/ <insert crime>) has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.]

The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in lawful (self-defense/ [or] defense of another). If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant not guilty of <insert crime(s) charged>.


3471. Right to Self-Defense: Mutual Combat or Initial Aggressor

A person who engages in mutual combat or who is the initial aggressor has a right to self-defense only if:

1. (He/She) actually and in good faith tries to stop fighting;

[AND]

2. (He/She) indicates, by word or by conduct, to (his/her) opponent, in a way that a reasonable person would understand, that (he/she) wants to stop fighting and that (he/she) has stopped fighting(;/.)

<Give element 3 in cases of mutual combat>

[AND

3. (He/She) gives (his/her) opponent a chance to stop fighting.] If a person meets these requirements, (he/she) then has a right to self-defense if the opponent continues to fight. [If you decide that the defendant started the fight using non-deadly force and the opponent responded with such sudden and deadly force that the defendant could not withdraw from the fight, then the defendant had the right to defend (himself/herself) with deadly force and was not required to try to stop fighting.]


3472. Right to Self-Defense: May Not Be Contrived

A person does not have the right to self-defense if he or she provokes a fight or quarrel with the intent to create an excuse to use force.


3473. Reserved for Future Use


3474. Danger No Longer Exists or Attacker Disabled

The right to use force in (self-defense/ [or] defense of another) continues only as long as the danger exists or reasonably appears to exist.

[When the attacker (withdraws/ [or] no longer appears capable of inflicting any injury), then the right to use force ends.]


3475. Right to Eject Trespasser From Real Property

The (owner/lawful occupant) of a (home/property) may request that a trespasser leave the (home/property). If the trespasser does not leave within a reasonable time and it would appear to a reasonable person that the trespasser poses a threat to (the (home/ property)/ [or] the (owner/ [or] occupants), the (owner/lawful occupant) may use reasonable force to make the trespasser leave.

Reasonable force means the amount of force that a reasonable person in the same situation would believe is necessary to make the trespasser leave.

[If the trespasser resists, the (owner/lawful occupant) may increase the amount of force he or she uses in proportion to the force used by the trespasser and the threat the trespasser poses to the property.]

When deciding whether the defendant used reasonable force, consider all the circumstances as they were known to and appeared to the defendant and consider what a reasonable person in a similar situation with similar knowledge would have believed. If the defendant’s beliefs were reasonable, the danger does not need to have actually existed.

The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant used more force than was reasonable. If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant not guilty of <insert crime>.


3476. Right to Defend Real or Personal Property

The owner [or possessor] of (real/ [or] personal) property may use reasonable force to protect that property from imminent harm. [A person may also use reasonable force to protect the property of a (family member/guest/master/servant/ward) from immediate harm.]

Reasonable force means the amount of force that a reasonable person in the same situation would believe is necessary to protect the property from imminent harm.

When deciding whether the defendant used reasonable force, consider all the circumstances as they were known to and appeared to the defendant and consider what a reasonable person in a similar situation with similar knowledge would have believed. If the defendant’s beliefs were reasonable, the danger does not need to have actually existed.

The People have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant used more force than was reasonable to protect property from imminent harm. If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant not guilty of <insert crime>.


3477. Presumption That Resident Was Reasonably Afraid of Death or Great Bodily Injury (Pen. Code, § 198.5)

The law presumes that the defendant reasonably feared imminent death or great bodily injury to (himself/herself)[, or to a member of (his/her) family or household,] if:

1. An intruder unlawfully and forcibly (entered/ [or] was entering) the defendant’s home;

2. The defendant knew [or reasonably believed] that an intruder unlawfully and forcibly (entered/ [or] was entering) the defendant’s home;

3. The intruder was not a member of the defendant’s household or family;

AND

4. The defendant used force intended to or likely to cause death or great bodily injury to the intruder inside the home.

[Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm.]

The People have the burden of overcoming this presumption. This means that the People must prove that the defendant did not have a reasonable fear of imminent death or injury to (himself/herself)[, or to a member of his or her family or household,] when (he/she) used force against the intruder. If the People have not met this burden, you must find the defendant reasonably feared death or injury to (himself/herself)[, or to a member of his or her family or household].




As you can see, CA is a stand-your-ground state; no legal duty to retreat. Other states require you to retreat if safe to do so as a condition to a defense of self-defense. There can be other variations. A safe retreat, however, is always a good choice regardless of the law.
Ricky B is offline  
Reply

Tags
california law , defense of property , self-defense , trespassing

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:58 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.06233 seconds with 7 queries