Sunday, November 17, 2013

State v. Horton case brief

State v. Horton case brief summary
51 S.E. 945 (1905)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant appealed an order of a trial court (North Carolina), which entered judgment and convicted defendant on a charge of manslaughter.

CASE FACTS
Defendant was hunting on property without the permission of the owner. This was a violation of a state law. During the hunt, defendant shot and killed his hunting companion. The jury submitted a special verdict in which it specifically determined that hunting itself was not a dangerous endeavor and that defendant had not acted in a reckless manner. The verdict also stated that but for the violation of the gaming law, the killing of the companion did not constitute a violation of the law.

DISCUSSION

  • The court reversed the conviction. 
  • The offense of hunting on the land without permission was malum prohibitum. 
  • That fact, coupled with the jury's finding that defendant had not acted in a negligent manner, resulted in a case of excusable homicide, not manslaughter. 
  • The case would have been different if the separate offense committed by defendant was one that could be characterized as malum in se. 
  • In that case, a specific intent to do some harm would have been present and the companion's death would have been criminally punishable.

CONCLUSION
The court reversed defendant's conviction and directed that he be discharged.


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