Justifications - Criminal Law - Lecture Slides, Slides for Criminal Law. English and Foreign Languages University
asgari
asgari7 February 2013

Justifications - Criminal Law - Lecture Slides, Slides for Criminal Law. English and Foreign Languages University

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It is the Lecture Slides of Criminal Law which includes Inchoate Crimes, Conspiracy and Solicitation, Finished Committing, Crime Intended, Dilemma Inchoate, Free Societies, Inchoate Offenses etc. Key important points are...
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Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Defenses to Criminal Liability:

Justifications

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Learning Objectives

• That the law of self defense is undergoing major transformation.

• That defendants are not criminally liable if their actions were justified under the circumstances.

• That defendants are not criminally liable if they were not responsible for their actions.

• Understand how the affirmative defenses operate in justified and excused conduct.

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Learning Objectives (cont.)

• Appreciate that self-defense limits the use of deadly force to those who reasonably believe they are faced with the choice to kill or be killed right now.

• To know and understand the differences, of the four elements of self-defense.

• Appreciate the historic transformation of retreat and its shaping of the stand-your-ground rule and the retreat rule.

• Understand the retreat rule and appreciate its historic transformation.

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Learning Objectives (cont.)

• Understand that there is no duty to retreat from your own home to avoid using deadly force.

• Appreciate that the “New Castle Doctrine” laws are transforming the law of self-defense.

• That the choice to commit a lesser crime to avoid an imminent threat of harm from a greater crime is justified.

• That the defense of consent represents the high value placed on individual autonomy in a free society.

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Defenses to Criminal Liability

• Behavior that is justifiable or excusable does not lead to criminal liability

• Justifications and excuse comprise many of the defenses to criminal liability

Justification defenses- defendants admit responsibility but claim that what they did was right under the circumstances

Excuse defenses-defendants admit that what they did was wrong, but claim they are not responsible

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Proving Defenses in Court

Affirmative defenses require the defendant to raise the issue and put on some evidence supporting his or her claim (burden of production)

• Some jurisdictions also require the defendant to bear the burden of persuasion (convince the jury to some degree of certainty— generally preponderance of evidence)

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Perfect and Imperfect Defenses

Perfect defenses – Allow defendant to escape all criminal liability if

they are successfully raised (“they let the defendant walk”)

– Most defenses are perfect defenses – Insanity defense is not a perfect defense because

even if defendant succeeds, there will generally be some commitment

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Perfect and Imperfect Defenses

Imperfect defenses – Either the defense is an imperfect defense and if

defense is successfully raised, the defendant will not “walk”

• Diminished capacity (see Chapter 6) – OR a perfect defense which is not completely

fulfilled • Example: Swann v. United States

– Jury could consider evidence that Swann honestly but unreasonably believed he needed to use deadly force in self- defense and convict on manslaughter rather than murder

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Justification Defenses • Execution of Public Duties (not in text)

– Use of force by police, soldiers, public executioners

• Self-Defense • Defense of Others • Defense of Property • Defense of Habitation • Choice of Evils (aka Necessity) • Consent

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Self-Defense

• Defense allows self-help due to necessity • Not retaliation • Not preemptive strikes

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Self-Defense Elements • Unprovoked Attack

– Defender cannot be the initial aggressor, cannot have provoked the attack

Necessity – Only use force necessary to repel an imminent attack (one that is

going to happen right now) • Proportionality

– Defender can only use the amount of force necessary to repel the unlawful force

– Deadly force can only be used to repel deadly attack • Reasonable Belief

– Defender has to reasonably believe (objectively reasonable) that it is necessary to use force to repel the attack

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Self-Defense Elements (cont.)

• Unprovoked Attack – Initial aggressor cannot use force to defend self

against attack that he or she provoked – Withdrawal Exception

• If attacker completely withdraws from the attack they provoke, they can defend themselves against attack by their initial victims

• State v. Good

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Self-Defense Elements (cont.)

• Necessity – Refers to the imminent danger of attack – Defender can use force when needed to protect

against imminent unlawful force against either themselves or someone else

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Self-Defense Elements (cont.)

• Proportionality - Most statutes allow using deadly force to protect

self from deadly force or force that could cause serious injury

- Some states allow using deadly force to kill someone you believe is about to commit a serious felony against you even if its not life threatening

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Self-Defense Elements (cont.)

• Reasonable belief that using force was required – Not sufficient that the defender honestly believed

that it was necessary to use force (subjective standard)

– Almost all statutes require that defender reasonably believed it was necessary (objective, reasonable person standard)

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Case: People v. Goetz

• Facts

• Issue

• Holding

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Summary of case holding

• Court examined the New York statutes and reiterated that the law of self-defense allowed a person to use deadly force only if he reasonably believed that the other person was using or about to use deadly physical force.

• The issue was whether the grand jury instructions given by the prosecutor correctly stated NY law. The court ruled they did.

• It reiterated that the jury had to decide, first, if Goetz himself believed that deadly force was necessary to avert the imminent use of deadly force. Then the jury needs to decide if a reasonable person in light of all the circumstances could have had those beliefs.

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Limitations to Self-Defense: Retreat

• Retreat doctrine requires that a person retreat (if they can do so safely) before using force

• English common law principle which survived in some American jurisdictions

• Most jurisdictions did not require retreating, but allowed a person to “stand one’s ground” and kill in self-defense

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Retreat

• Even in those jurisdictions that required a person to retreat if they could safely do so, there was an exception if they were in their own home

Castle exception (to the retreat rule) provides that when you are attacked in your own home you can stand your ground and use deadly force to fend off unprovoked use of deadly force against you

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Castle Exception and Cohabitants

• In those states that have the retreat rule and the castle exception to the retreat rule, an issue arises when the attacker and the defender are cohabitants sharing the same “castle”

• People v. Tomlins (1914): case involved a man killing his 22-year-old son in their cottage. The court held that the general rule that a person need not retreat in his or her own home applies whether the attacker is a cohabitant or an outsider.

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Case: State v. Snow

• Facts

• Issue

• Holding

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Summary of case holding

• Court disputed whether Connecticut really intended to allow cohabitants to stand their ground against one another when it created a exception to the rule requiring cohabitants to retreat

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Case: State v. Thomas

• Facts

• Issue

• Holding

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Summary of case holding • The court stated, “The victims of ….(domestic violence) have

already “retreated to the wall” many times over and therefore should not be required as victims of domestic violence to attempt to flee to safety before being able to claim the affirmative defense of self-defense……There is no rational reason for a distinction between an intruder and a cohabitant when considering the policy for preserving human life where the setting is the domicile and accordingly we hold that there is no duty to retreat from one’s own home before resorting to lethal force in self-defense against a cohabitant with an equal right to be in the home.”

• Note: dissents pointed out that there were more opportunities for deadly violence in domestic settings, and believed retreat should be required.

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Defense of Others

• Historically limited to members of immediate family

• Trend is in opposite direction

• Many states allow defense of anyone who needs immediate protection from attack

• Others have to have the right to defend themselves before someone else can claim the defense – Ex: State v. Aguillard—abortion rights protestors could not

claim defense of others, because the “others” could not legally defend themselves

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