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People v. Ceballos

Supreme Court of California
12 Cal.3d 470 (1974)



J. Don Ceballos (defendant) lived in an apartment above a garage, but he sometimes slept in the garage which contained about $2,000 worth of property. After noticing that the lock on his garage doors was bent and there were pry marks on the doors, he installed a mounted pistol aimed at the center of the garage doors. The pistol was connected by a wire to one of the doors so that it would discharge if the door was opened slightly. Two unarmed teenage boys, who had caused the previous pry marks, returned to Ceballos’ garage after noticing he was not present. One of the boys removed the lock and pulled the door and was struck in the face with a bullet fired from the trap gun. Ceballos was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. At trial, one of the boys testified that they did not know if they were going to steal anything until they could get inside the garage and look around. Ceballos admitted to setting the trap gun because he wanted to protect his property. Ceballos was found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon and he appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Burke, J.)

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