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Assignment: Classifications of Defense

Imagine a police detective investigating the crime of a young woman who severely maims an older man. The young woman does not explain why she stabbed the man; rather, she is in profound shock and remains silent. If the detective had no awareness of the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, the detective might not have pursued a line of questioning leading to a revelation: the man had abused the young woman when she was a girl. The circumstance could lead to a plausible defense.

Criminal justice professionals must understand defense classifications in order to fulfill their roles. In this Assignment, you review scenarios for an applicable defense.

To prepare:

Read the Week 3 case studies found in the Criminal Justice Case Studies: Criminal Law, Week 3 document.

This Assignment requires you to apply your learning to all case studies in the document.

Write a 500 – word paper that addresses the following for each of the five cases:

What is the actus reus, or the action that caused harm?

What is the mens rea, or the intent of the person who caused the harm? Be sure to discuss the level of mens rea (purposeful, knowing, reckless, and negligent) and explain how you came to this conclusion.

Is there concurrence? Did the actus reus and the mens rea occur together?

Which excusable or justifiable defense could be applied to this case? What information from the scenario led you to this conclusion?

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Criminal Justice Case Studies: Criminal Law, Week 3 For the case studies this week, you can revisit case studies used in a previous week— but with some details changed—or choose from new ones.

The Case of the Smith Family Shooting Re-read the case study below. Then, imagine that you are a defense attorney and that the following details are also part of the scenario:

• The son, a 16-year-old (instead of 12 years old as in the previous case), reported that his father often physically abused his mother.

• The father died from the gunshot wound. • The mother, who has never reported abuse, does admit to having been abused

and that her statement—“He spouts off things like that, but he never does anything about it.”—was false.

• You learn that one of the mother’s co-workers can corroborate seeing her bruised on occasion.

Mrs. Smith called emergency dispatchers at 3 a.m. to report a shooting. As the responding officer, you observe the following: Mrs. Smith says that she and her husband had been arguing, and that at one point her husband threatened to shoot her and her son. Mrs. Smith says, “He spouts off things like that, but he never does anything about it. He has a temper. But I’d had enough of his meanness and coming home late, so I went to the bathroom to put myself together and get out of there for a while.” In response to being asked if she planned to take her son, she says, “No. I always come back.” Johnny, the Smith’s 16-year-old son, woke up because he heard his parents arguing. He says that they fight often, “but this time the fighting seemed a lot crazier than usual.” Johnny says that his father went outside, slamming the door. Johnny then says, “I picked up the living room gun off the coffee table and went to his bedroom.” He reports that his father keeps “other guns” around the house, unlocked and in the open. During the witness interview, you observe a second gun on an upper book shelf in the living room, in an unlocked case, and a subsequent search of the home uncovers a third gun, not in a case, on a kitchen counter near the back door. Johnny continues to say that when Mr. Smith came back in the house, he continued yelling at Mrs. Smith from the living room. “I fixed the car so you can’t leave!” Mr. Smith yelled. “Where you going to go at this time, anyway?” Johnny said he took the revolver he had taken out of the case it had been in and told his mother to stay in the bathroom.

Criminal Justice Case Studies: Criminal Law, Week 3

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He then walked into the living room. As Mr. Smith stood up and started walking towards Johnny, Johnny fired the gun at his father. Johnny says that he fired the gun because he was afraid his father might hurt his mother. The mother claims that she did not hear Johnny in the hall until the gun was fired. The father suffered a minor injury on his right hand from grabbing the hot, recently fired gun from Johnny. The bullet is found lodged in a neighbor’s car parked on the street, causing damage to the window and interior. The neighbor inquiries about how he could “get those jerks to pay for fixing my car.” The father, when approached while being tended by the EMS, smells of alcohol. He says, “That boy knows better than to touch my guns. I’ve told him to leave them alone a hundred times. He should know better.”

The Case of the Handicap Parking Space Altercation Police investigate an altercation at a convenience store which resulted in one man being killed. Their investigation reveals that Travis arrived at the store approximately 5 minutes before Paul did. Travis parked his truck in a designated handicap area and went into the store with his wife. When Paul arrived, he saw a white Chevrolet pickup truck in the handicap parking area and noted that it didn’t have the required handicap parking permit sticker in the window or on the license plate. Paul then saw Travis walking out of the store. Paul confronted Travis and the two began to argue. During the argument, Paul shoved Travis, causing him to fall to the ground. While still on the ground, Travis pulled out a gun, pointed it at Paul and shot him in the chest. Paul died on scene from his injuries.

Criminal Justice Case Studies: Criminal Law, Week 3

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The Case of the High School Fight Re-read the case study below. Imagine that you are a defense attorney and that the following details are also part of the scenario:

• Jake’s parents want to press charges against Tony. You are called to the local high school to investigate an altercation between two students, Scott and Tony. At the scene, you observe two students injured on the curb of the parking lot, near a new sports car. One student, named Jake, has blood coming from his head and is laying on his back. The other student, Scott, is holding his shoulder and has contusions on his arm and face. Jake, the boy on his back, seems groggy, and two witness say he hit his head hard on the curb. After EMTs arrive, stabilize Jake, and tend to Scott, you conduct the following interviews. Tony says, “Scott and me trash talk each other all the time. We’re not friends, really, but we’re not exactly enemies.” Tony says that he just received the new sports car a few days ago. “Scott comes over, after talking his usual trash, and pulls his keys out. Like he’s going to gouge the paint on my new car.” He claims that Scott made a big show of doing this—there were many witnesses, but most had dispersed. Tony adds, “So I tackled him. But he didn’t go down right away. We started trying to get each other down. I started swinging. He started swinging. Things got out of hand. It’s not like I saw Jake. I didn’t mean to hit him.” Scott’s story matches Tony’s, and Scott admits to the taunting. However, Scott adds, “I wasn’t going to wreck his car. I like his car. Tony’s a friend. I was just playing. I was just trying to defend myself. Jake’s a friend, too. Tony didn’t mean to hit him. He was just swinging wildly. All I saw was that a punch missed me, hit Jake, and Jake fell backward and hit his head on the cement.” The EMTs decide to take Jake to the hospital, possibly for an MRI due to the blow to the head. He shows signs of a possible concussion. He says, “I was just trying to break it up.” You interview three witnesses who had remained on the scene, tending to Jake until help arrived. All three corroborate the story, saying that Jake was trying to break up the fight.

Criminal Justice Case Studies: Criminal Law, Week 3

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The Case of the Troubled Son Tim, a 23-year-old diagnosed schizophrenic, lives with his mother. On Wednesday evening, police were dispatched to Tim’s residence for a report of a disturbance. When officers arrive, they note that they can see through a window that an adult female is sitting in a chair in the living room portion of the house. They do not immediately see anyone else. When the officers knock on the door, Tim answers. His responses to the officer’s’ inquiries are nonsensical and difficult to understand. Suddenly, Tim turns and runs back into the residence. As the officers follow Tim, through a hallway and into the kitchen, he abruptly whirls around and produces a large butcher knife. Tim attempts to stab the officer he had been talking with, but he is quickly subdued. Officers then find Tim’s mother tied to a chair in the living room where she is bleeding profusely from knife wounds. Tim’s mother said that he had been hearing voices and that he had tied her to a chair and had cut her several times to “release the demons” that were inside of her.

Criminal Justice Case Studies: Criminal Law, Week 3

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The Case of the Late-Night Robbery Re-read the case study below. Imagine that you are a defense attorney and that the following details are removed from the scenario:

• Edwin does not claim to have known anything about the homeowner, including that he thought he was wealthy.

• In fact, Edwin doesn’t remember much about the night before being arrested. You respond to the home of an 84-year-old male who called 911 to report an intruder and another call about gunshots fired. You were just two blocks away and managed to apprehend an individual climbing a fence adjacent to the home. The suspect is named Edwin and is described as a 32-year-old male who is 6’2” tall and weighs 275 pounds. He admits to spending Saturday evening at the local pub. “I left after the jerk bar tender refused to serve me. Said I was too drunk. I wasn’t too drunk to climb that fence, was I?” On his way home from the bar, Edwin decided to try robbing the home. “I’ve seen that old man before. I pass by his house all the time. Looks like he’s got a lot of money,” says Edwin. He had kicked his way through a back-patio door and into the enclosed porch of the residence. “I figured that guy couldn’t hear—probably had hearing aids. So, I kept going. Of course, then the crazy old guy’s standing in his robe with his gun pointing at me. No way was he going to shoot. Then he shoots!” According to the homeowner, despite being warned away, Edwin continued to break through the door. The owner says that he heard Edwin break into the home. “I have good hearing for my age,” says the owner. “But he wasn’t trying to be stealthy, it seemed. I called 911 from my bedside phone. Then I grabbed my shotgun. I thought I recognized him from walking by here. I fired that warning shot,” said the owner. “I tried to fire into the dirt, through the broken window, so as to not harm anyone with a stray bullet. Then he ran right out the door.”

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