Training Is The 13th Juror™
Reginald F. Allard, Jr. - 13thjuror, LLC -
Police Consultant/Expert Witness
Future Is What Present Does™
Box 1013, Southington, Connecticut 06489-5013
Reginald F. Allard, Jr. - 13thjuror, LLC - Police Consultant/Expert Witness
Future Is What Present Does™
P.O. Box 1013, Southington, Connecticut 06489-5013
State of Connecticut v. Saunders, 267 Conn. 363, 838 A.2d 186 (Conn.
The law of self-defense is equally well settled. " Pursuant to § 53a-19 (a) . . . a person may justifiably use deadly physical force in self-defense only if he reasonably believes both that (1) his attacker is using or about to use deadly physical force against him, or is inflicting or about to inflict great bodily harm, and (2) that deadly physical force is necessary to repel such attack. . . . We repeatedly have indicated that the test a jury must apply in analyzing the second requirement, i.e., that the defendant reasonably believed that deadly force, as opposed to some lesser degree of force, was necessary to repel the victim's alleged attack, is a subjective/objective one....
"The subjective-objective inquiry into the defendant's belief regarding the necessary degree of force requires that the jury make two separate affirmative determinations in order for the defendant's claim of self-defense to succeed. First, the jury must determine whether, on the basis of all of the evidence presented, the defendant in fact had believed that he had needed to use deadly physical force, as opposed to some lesser degree of force, in order to repel the victim's alleged attack. . . . The jury's initial determination, therefore, requires the jury to assess the veracity of witnesses, often including the defendant, and to determine whether the defendant's account of his belief in the necessity to use deadly force at the time of the confrontation isin fact credible....
"If the jury determines that the defendant [did] not [believe] that he . . . needed to employ deadly physical force to repel the victim's attack, the jury's inquiry ends, and the defendant's self-defense claim must fail. If, however, the jury determines that the defendant in fact had believed that the use of deadly force was necessary, the jury must make a further determination as to whether that belief was reasonable, from the perspective of a reasonable person in the defendant's circumstances. . . . Thus, if a jury determines that the defendant's honest belief that he had needed to use deadly force, instead of some lesser degree of force, was not a reasonable belief, the defendant is not entitled to the protection of § 53a-19." State v. Prioleau, 235 Conn. 274, 285-87, 664 A.2d 743 (1995).
Furthermore, under General Statutes § 53a-19 (b), a person is not justified in using deadly physical force "if he knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety (1) by retreating . . . ." Thus, a defendant who raises a claim of self-defense is required to retreat in lieu of using deadly physical force if the state establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that a completely safe retreat was available and that the defendant actually was aware of it. See, e.g., State v. Ash, 231 Conn. 484, 492, 651 A.2d 247 (1994).
General Statutes § 53a-19 provides in relevant part: "(a) Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, a person is justified in using reasonable physical force upon another person to defend himself . . . from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force, and he may use such degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for such purpose; except that deadly physical force may not be used unless the actor reasonably believes that such other person is (1) using or about to use deadly physical force, or (2) inflicting or about to inflict great bodily harm. "(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, a person is not justified in using deadly physical force upon another person if he knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety (1) by retreating, except that the actor shall not be required to retreat if he is in his dwelling, as defined in section 53a-100, or place of work and was not the initial aggressor . . . or (2) by surrendering possession of property to a person asserting a claim of right thereto, or (3) by complying with a demand that he abstain from performing an act which he is not obliged to perform. "(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, a person is not justified in using physical force when (1) with intent to cause physical injury or death to another person, he provokes the use of physical force by such other person, or (2) he is the initial aggressor, except that his use of physical force upon another person under such circumstances is justifiable if he withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to such other person his intent to do so, but such other person notwithstanding continues or threatens the use of physical force ...."
General Statutes § 53a-12 (a) provides: "When a defense other than an affirmative defense, is raised at a trial, the state shall have the burden of disproving such defense beyond a reasonable doubt." Our Penal Code characterizes self-defense as a non-affirmative defense that the state must disprove beyond a reasonable doubt. See General Statutes § 53a-16 ("[i]n any prosecution for an offense, justification, as defined in sections 53a-17 to 53a-23, inclusive, shall be a defense".
DISCLAIMER: This message is not intended to be legal advice, and it should not be construed to be legal advice. Any specific fact patterns as they relate to State laws and/or Regulations should be directed to an appropriate attorney for legal clarification and opinion. This mesage is not intended as the giving or tendering to another person for consideration, direct or indirect, of any advice or counsel pertaining to a law question or a court action or judicial proceeding brought or about to be brought; or the undertaking or acting as a representative or on behalf of another person to commence, settle, compromise, adjust, or dispose of any civil or criminal case or cause of action.