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Criminal Law

Exam 13
30 minutes

Fact Pattern

As A is leaving the grocery store, arms filled with groceries, A sees a stranger, B, sitting in A’s distinctive car. The car is a red and white polka-dotted 1964 Generica II. Because B is idling the engine, A believes that B is stealing the car. A looks around for a police officer or security guard, but he doesn’t see one. Accordingly, A drops his groceries, dashes over to B, and yells, “Stop the car!”  When B doesn’t respond, A grabs B’s arm through the open driver-side window. B screams and peels out. A does not immediately let go of B’s arm, and A feels something pop in B’s arm as B leaves. As it turns out, due to A’s powerful grasp, B’s arm has been dislocated at the shoulder. 

A, using his cell phone, calls his wife to tell her that his car was stolen. A then spends the next ten minutes trying earnestly to hail a cab. When he finally succeeds, he jumps in and has the cabbie drive him around the area, looking for the car. When A finally spots his car, with B at the wheel, the cabbie (a former stock car racer) gives chase, peeling around corners and weaving through traffic. 

At last, A and the cabbie trap B in a dead-end alley. B stops the car, leaps out, and starts running away. A exits the cab and, now in hot pursuit, quickly tackles B to the ground. Now cowed, B sobs pitifully, “Why are you trying to steal my car?” 

It turns out that A and B are both proud owners of red and white polka-dotted 1964 Generica II cars. Quite unusually, each key to any 1964 Generica II is identical to all the others—that is, if a key opens and starts one 1964 Generica II, then that key will open and start all the others, too. At the grocery store, B had forgotten where he parked his own car, and thus had mistakenly gotten into A’s car, believing it to be his own. Because all the 1964 Generica II keys are identical, B’s key could open and start A’s car with no problems. 

In a common-law jurisdiction, A is arrested and charged with two counts of battery. The first count is for A’s dislocating B’s arm. The second count is for A’s tackling B to the ground.

Assume the prosecution can prove the above facts at A’s trial. Assume also that the prosecution can prove the prima facie elements of battery, for both counts, beyond a reasonable doubt. Assume further that this jurisdiction prohibits citizen’s arrests; a citizen’s arrest is defined as a warrantless arrest by a private person, as opposed to a duly deputized law enforcement officer.


Questions

  1. In a common-law jurisdiction, does A have a valid defense-of-property defense as to either count of battery? Explain, applying only the common law and analyzing each count separately; do not apply the Model Penal Code, and do not analyze any other issue that may be raised by the problem.

Question 1

In a common-law jurisdiction, does A have a valid defense-of-property defense as to either count of battery? Explain, applying only the common law and analyzing each count separately; do not apply the Model Penal Code, and do not analyze any other issue that may be raised by the problem.

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