Sunday, November 17, 2013

State v. Horton case brief

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

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

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.


  • 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.

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

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