Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hendershott v. People case brief

Hendershott v. People case brief summary
653 P.2d 385 (1982)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant was charged and was conviction for assault in the third degree by the District Court of the County of Boulder (Colorado). Defendant challenged his conviction claiming that he was prohibited from negating the element of culpability in violation of his rights under U.S. Constitutional Amendment XIV and Colo. Constitutional art. II § 25.

CASE FACTS
Defendant was charged and convicted for assault in the third degree, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-204 (1978). At trial defendant sought to offer evidence that he had a minimal brain dysfunction in order to negate the element of mens rea. The trial court concluded that evidence of mental impairment due to a mental disease or defect could not be used to negate the mens rea for a nonspecific intent crime and excluded the evidence.

DISCUSSION
  • On review, defendant contended that the trial court's ruling violated his rights under U.S. Constitutional Amendment XIV and Colo. Constitutional art. II § 25. 
  • The court agreed with defendant finding that the trial court's decision seriously undermined the constitutional protect against conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime. 
  • The court found that the crime for which defendant was charged required the prosecution to prove that defendant had acted "knowingly or recklessly."

CONCLUSION
The court reversed and remanded defendant's conviction for assault in the third degree.


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