Law School Case Brief
Flowers v. State - 51 So. 3d 911 (Miss. 2010)
The necessity defense entered Mississippi's jurisprudence in 1992 in Knight v. State, which held "that where a person reasonably believes that he is in danger of physical harm he may be excused for some conduct which ordinarily would be criminal," and set forth the defense's three elements: "(1) the act charged was done to prevent a significant evil; (2) there must [have been] no adequate alternative; and (3) the harm caused was not disproportionate to the harm avoided."
A neighbor who saw Flowers breaking into a house grabbed a hunting rifle, ran to the scene, and held Flowers captive until the police arrived and arrested him. Flowers was indicted and tried for house burglary. During his trial, Flowers testified that someone had been trying to shoot him, so he ran to a nearby house, knocked on the door, and broke in to escape the would-be attacker.
Flowers submitted a jury instruction on the defense of necessity, but the trial judge, without comment, refused to give it. The jury found him guilty, and the trial court sentenced him to 10 years in prison. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Flowers sought further review in the Supreme Court for Mississippi.
Was Flowers entitled to the jury instruction?
The state supreme court reviewed the record and, concluding that Flowers's testimony was sufficient to entitle him to a jury instruction on the defense of necessity, the Court reversed and remanded for a new trial. Precedent required that the Court consider Flowers's testimony in the light most favorable to him and the Court must consider all reasonable favorable inferences that may be drawn from the evidence in his favor.
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