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Law School Case Brief

People v. Brown - 6 Cal. App. 4th 1489, 8 Cal. Rptr. 2d 513 (1992)

Rule:

The Home Protection Bill of Rights, Cal. Penal Code § 198.5 (1984), creates a rebuttable presumption that a residential occupant has a reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury when he or she uses deadly force against an unlawful and forcible intruder into the residence. For Cal. Penal Code § 198.5 to apply, four elements must be met. There must be an unlawful and forcible entry into a residence; the entry must be by someone who is not a member of the family or the household; the residential occupant must have used deadly force (as defined in § 198.5) against the victim within the residence; and finally, the residential occupant must have had knowledge of the unlawful and forcible entry.

Facts:

Jason Neal, a bricklayer, entered defendant’s front porch and advanced toward defendant with a hammer after the two had argued about a contract under which Neal was to perform landscaping work at defendant’s house. Defendant, standing in the doorway of his home, shot Neal in the leg out of fear for his life. Defendant was then convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. The trial court refused defendant’s requested instruction based on the “Home Protection Bill of Rights”, Cal. Penal Code § 198.5. Defendant appealed.

Issue:

Did the entry into defendant’s porch constitute an entry into a residence, thereby justifying a jury instruction based on the “Home Protection Bill of Rights”, Cal. Penal Code § 198.5?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court found that, although there was evidence that the victim's entry onto defendant's front porch was unlawful and forcible, an entry onto a front porch like defendant's did not constitute entry into a residence as required under Cal. Penal Code § 198.5. The Court concluded that, under the circumstances, defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of protection from unauthorized intrusion onto the porch and thus an entry there did not entitle defendant to an instruction based on Cal. Penal Code § 198.5, and was left with the standard instructions on self-defense.

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