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Law School Case Brief

Commonwealth v. Emmons - 157 Pa. Super. 495, 43 A.2d 568 (1945)


The preservation of human life and limb from grievous harm is of more importance to society than the protection of property. 


Defendant Mildred E. Emmons possessed a vehicle under a bailment lease. She was two months behind in payments. Gray and another worker sought to repossess the vehicle in broad daylight, while keeping the peace. Defendant shot and seriously injured Gray as he was assisting in the towing of the vehicle. She was charged with assault and battery with intent to murder, aggravated assault and battery, and simple assault and battery. Defendant contended that she was justified in shooting the victim because she thought he was committing a felony by taking her vehicle. A jury in Pennsylvania state court found defendant guilty of aggravated assault and battery and the trial court overruled defendant's motion for a new trial. Defendant appealed.


Was defendant's conviction proper?




The appellate court affirmed the trial court's judgment that convicted defendant of aggravated assault and battery. The court held that defendant was not justified in shooting the victim. The court found that that defendant was not defending her person, or her home or "castle." The court held that that there was no felony by force, or any atrocious crime to be prevented. The court also found that that there was no danger to defendant or her habitation. The court held that that there was no force by an intruder for her to repel. In affirming, the court held that there was no justification in law for her infliction of grievous bodily harm to the victim.

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