Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
There are six elements to the defense of necessity: Except as to crimes that include lack of necessity (or good cause) as an element, necessity is an affirmative defense recognized based on public policy considerations. To justify an instruction on the defense of necessity, a defendant must present evidence sufficient to establish that [he or] she violated the law (1) to prevent a significant and imminent evil, (2) with no reasonable legal alternative, (3) without creating a greater danger than the one avoided, (4) with a good faith belief that the criminal act was necessary to prevent the greater harm, (5) with such belief being objectively reasonable, and (6) under circumstances in which he did not substantially contribute to the emergency. The defendant has the burden of proving the defense of necessity by a preponderance of the evidence.
Kristina H. met defendant Mario Edward Saavedra Figueroa in 1993 when she was 13 and he was 31. At age 15, Kristina dropped out of school and ran off with defendant and they got married when she turned 18. That same year, their relationship went sour, Kristina called the police and returned to her parents, but days later, the couple reunited. There was also a time when she and her brother attended a family reunion, the latter was extremely angry because he suspected defendant had been hiding and spying on the family the entire time. Kristina tried many times to leave defendant on many occasions, but he always prevented it. She later on succeeded and the trial court judge issued a restraining order directing defendant not to contact her. In many occasions, defendant admitted showing up near Kristina. At trial, Kristina felt defendant had manipulated her in the past and was trying to manipulate her after the restraining order. Nonetheless, she testified that she loved him. A therapist and expert in the fields of Battered Wife Syndrome (BWS) and domestic violence, testified explained that there are three stages to BWS: the tension building, the acute battering, and the honeymoon. Defendant was charged by information with stalking (Pen. Code, § 646.9, subd. (a) as Count 1, false imprisonment under § 236 as Count 2, and battery on a spouse or co-habitant under § 243 subd. (e) as Count 3. The jury found defendant guilty of false imprisonment but not guilty of the other two charges. The trial court suspended imposition of sentence and placed defendant on three-year probation upon condition that he serve 225 days in custody and submit to search and seizure without warrant or probable cause. On appeal, defendant contended the trial court erred by refusing to instruct on the defense of necessity, in admitting evidence regarding two prior acts of domestic violence under Evidence Code section 1109, in giving an erroneous instruction pursuant to CALJIC No. 2.50.02, in admitting expert testimony on Battered Women's Syndrome, and in giving an instruction that informed the jury it could consider evidence on BWS in evaluating defendant's credibility. Defendant claimed that each error was separately prejudicial, alternatively, he argued the cumulative prejudice required reversal. With regard to sentencing, defendant contended the search condition to his probation was invalid.
Were the defendant’s contentions meritorious?
The court held that the trial court did not err when it refused to instruct the jury on the defense of necessity. Here, no evidence was presented deserving of consideration from which reasonable jurors could conclude that several of the elements of the defense of necessity had been satisfied. Nothing in the evidence suggests that defendant had no reasonable legal alternative to forcibly preventing Kristina from leaving their apartment. As defendant chose to illegally and indefinitely detain Kristina without making any attempt to resolve the situation short of false imprisonment. Thus, there was no evidence that defendant could prove the second element of the defense of necessity. Similarly, defendant presented no evidence that his fear of the police was objectively reasonable. Since defendant offered no evidence suggesting he had a reason to fear the police. Again, there was no evidence that defendant could prove the fifth element of the defense of necessity. Finally, the evidence strongly suggests that defendant substantially contributed to the situation by not allowing Kristina to leave. Therefore, defendant did not present evidence which could have proved the sixth element of the defense of necessity by a preponderance of the evidence. Moreover, the court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of defendant's past violence against Kristina pursuant to section 1109. The court also concluded that CALJIC No. 2.50.02 as given did not result in defendant being convicted of the current charges based solely upon the prior domestic violence incidents to which Katrina testified. The court were likewise convinced that there was no reasonable likelihood defendant would have been acquitted of the remaining charge absent the BWS evidence. Also, there was no reasonable probability defendant would have been acquitted absent the instruction. The court then concluded that the trial court did not err by omitting instructions on the defense of necessity, admitting evidence of defendant's prior acts of domestic violence, instructing the jury pursuant to CALJIC No. 2.50.2, by admitting evidence of BWS, or by instructing the jury that it could consider the BWS evidence in evaluating defendant's credibility. The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution entitles an appellant to a fair trial, but not a perfect one.