Sunday, November 17, 2013

State v. Mitcheson case brief

State v. Mitcheson case brief summary
560 P.2d 1120 (1977)

Defendant appealed his conviction from the lower court (Utah), in which the court found defendant guilt of second degree murder.

Defendant appealed his conviction for second degree murder. Defendant argued that the lower court erred in not instructing the jury on the defense of using force in the protection of one's habitation.

  • The supreme court reversed defendant's conviction. 
  • The supreme court held that defendant was entitled to an instruction on the defense of habitation under Utah Code Ann. § 76-2-405 (1953). 
  • According to the court, section 76-2-405, applied not only to a person's actual residence, but also whatever place he occupied peacefully as a substitute home or habitation. 
  • The court continued and held, that in a criminal case, the defendant need not specially plead his defenses. 
  • According to the court, the entry of a not guilty plea placed upon the State the burden of proving every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, and gave the defendant the benefit of every defense which caused a reasonable doubt to exist.

The supreme court reversed the lower court's judgment holding that defendant was entitled to an instruction of defense of one's habitation because defendant was not required to specially plead his defenses and because a not guilty plea gave defendant the benefit of every defense which caused reasonable doubt to exist.

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