Criminal Defendant Wanted a Jury Instruction But Failed to Set Up the Proper Defense

By: Wallin & Klarich

In May of 2009, in the County of Riverside, Michael Houston Chaffin was convicted of committing domestic battery. At his trial, the defendant argued that the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on his affirmative defense. Meaning, the defendant argued that the judge made a mistake when he or she failed to instruct the jury “on the right of a landowner to use reasonable force to eject a trespasser.” The California Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s decision basing their decision on the facts presented at his trial.

The law requires trial courts to instruct on particular defense if it appears that the defendant was relying on that defense or there exists substantial evidence to support this defense. CALCRIM No. 3475 grants a landowner or lawful occupant of property the right to “use reasonable force to eject a trespasser.” Because in this particular case, the defendant never viewed the victim as a trespasser and the victim testified that she was “attempting to leave the property,” the instruction was not given.

This Court concluded that the CALCRIM instruction No. 3475 was not required as it was completely inconsistent with Chaffin’s theory of the case and lacked evidentiary support. If the defense attorney set up the case so the instruction would not have been inconsistent then it is likely that the jury would have been instructed on the affirmative defense.

If you ever get arrested for this type of crime, you need an aggressive and experienced Southern California criminal defense attorney fighting for you, so that all possible defenses be heard and exhausted. If you or someone you love has been accused of a crime in California, contact the experienced Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today at 1-888-280-6839 or for a consultation of your case. We can help you.

Posted In: Assault & Battery