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Self-Defence

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SELF-DEFENCE. In Criminal Law. The protection of one's person and property from injury. Whart. Crim. Law 97. A man may defend himself, and even commit a homicide for the prevention of any forcible and atro cious crime which if completed would amount to a felony ; Oliver v. State, 17 Ala. 587 ; Monroe v. State, 5 Ga. 85 ; Staten v. State, 30 Miss. 619 ; and, of course, under the like circumstances, mayhem, wounding, and bat tery would be excusable at common law ; 4 Bla. Corn. 180. A man may repel force by force even to the taking of life; State v. Patterson, 45 Vt. 308, 12 Am. Rep. 200 ; Fields v. State, 134 Ind. 46, 32 N. E. 780 ; in defence of his person, property, or habita tion, or of a member of his family, against any one who manifests, intends, attempts, or endeavors, by violence or surprise, to commit a forcible felony, such as murder, rape, rob bery, arson, burglary, and the like ; Logue v. Com., 38 Pa. 265, 80 Am. Dec. 481; Bohan non v. Corn., 8 Bush (Ky.) 481, 8 Am. Rep. 474. In these cases he is not required to re treat; Runyan v. State, 57 Ind. 80, 26 Am. Rep. 52 ; but he may resist, and even pursue his adversary, until he has secured himself from all danger; Gray v. Combs, 7 J. J. Marsh. (Ky.) 478, 23 Am. Dec. 431; 4 Bingh. 628 ; State v. Thompson, 45 La. Ann. 969, 13 South. 392 ; but see. People v. Sullivan, 7 N. Y. 396. A man may defend his dwelling to any extremity ; and this includes what ever is within the curtilage of his dwelling house ; Pond v. People, 8 Mich. 150. Where one finds another trying to break into his house in the night-time he may employ such force as to prevent his doing so, and if the other threatens to kill him and makes a motion as if to do so and puts him in fear of his life, he is not bound to retreat, but may use such force as is necessary to repel the assault; Alberty v. U. S., 162 U. S. 499, 16 Sup. Ct. 864, 40 L. Ed. 1051. In de ciding what force is necessary, a person need only act upon the circumstances as they ap pear to him at the time. See Hinton v. State, 24 Tex. 454; Schnier v. People; 23 Ill. 17.

In the case of homicide, the law permits the resistance of force or seriously threaten ed force, actually impending or reasonably apparent, by force sufficient to repel the ac tual or apparent danger, and no more; Springfield v. State, 96 Ala. 81, 11 South. 250, 38 Am. St. Rep. 85. The law of self-defence justifies an act done "in an honest and rea sonable belief of immediate danger ;" New Orleans & N. E. R. Co. v. Jopes, 142 U. S. 18,

12 Sup. Ct. 109, 35 L. Ed. 919. To justify a homicide, however, on the ground of self-de fence, there must have been not only the be lief but also reasonable ground for believing that at the time of killing the deceased, he was in imminent or immediate danger of his life or great bodily harm ; Wilson v. State, 30 Fla. 234, 11 South. 556, 17 L. R. A. 654 ; People v. Hyndman, 99 Cal. 1, 33 Pac. 782 ; Kelly v. State, 27 Tex. App. 562, 11 S. W'. .627 ; Baum v. Bell, 28 S. C. 201, 5 S. E. 485 ; People v. Kennedy, 159 N. Y. 346, 54 N. E. 51, 70 Am. St. Rep. 557 ; and to justify shoot ing, on apparent necessity, the circumstances must have been such as to induce the mind of a reasonably prudent person to entertain the belief that the defendant was in imminent peril of his life or great bodily harm ; Ro den v. State, 97 Ala. 54, 12 South. 419; there must be a reasonable apprehension of imme diate danger justified by the circumstances; Field v. Com., 89 Va. 690, 16 S. E. 865 ; if there is manifestly no adequate or reasonable ground for such belief, the plea will not avail ; Anderson v. U. S., 170 U. S. 481, 18 Sup. Ct. 689, 42 L. Ed. 1116 ; it is good if it appeared to the accused, at the time, act ing as a reasonable man, that it was neces sary for him to kill the deceased in order to prevent injury to himself ; Owens v. U. S., 130 Fed. 279, 64 C. C. A. 525.

One on trial for homicide, and setting up self-defence, may testify as to what he thought the deceased intended to do; Taylor v. People, 21 Colo. 426, 42 Pac. 652; and that he believed it was necessary to kill the de ceased in order to save himself ; State v. Harrington, 12 Nev. 126; Lane v. State, 44 Fla. 105, 32 South. 896, where the deceased had threatened the accused and just before the killing had made a demonstration against him with his hand, declaring that he would kill the accused, the latter may testify what he believed the former would do; Wallace v. U. S., 162 U. S. 466, 16 Sup. Ct. 859, 40 L. Ed. 1039 ; the accused may testify that he struck the deceased because he believed that the deceased was going to strike him; Com. v. Woodward, 102 Mass. 155; the ac cused may explain his motives in drawing his revolver at the time of the assault; Ryan v. Territory, 12 Ariz. 208, 100 Pac. 770.

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