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Criminal Law

Exam 14
30 minutes

Fact Pattern

For several hours, A has been drinking at a local bar. This particular bar is the unofficial haven for fans of the Wombat football team. The bar’s walls are covered with team pennants, stuffed wombat heads, and photos celebrating the team’s (rare) victories. The Wombats have endured a long and bitter rivalry against a team called the Fruit Bats. When the two teams play each other, fights often erupt among their respective fans. 

At around 3 a.m., A hears the bar door open; the bar then goes completely silent. A turns and sees B, a Fruit Bat fan. B is decked out in Fruit Bat colors, along with a novelty pair of bat ears similar to the ears on the Fruit Bats’ mascot. 

Before B can react, an enraged and drunken A splashes a mugful of Wombat Ale in B’s face; he then slaps B. The bar erupts into cheers. A shakily rises to his feet, ready for a good old fashioned Wombat v. Fruit Bat brawl. 

B, however, is a true Fruit Bat fan—and a violently hot-tempered one, at that. B pulls out a knife and hisses, “I’m going to make the wombat extinct.” A now believes that B is going to kill him, so A runs towards the door to get away. But before A can reach the door, B catches A and slashes A’s leg with his knife; A collapses. As blood trickles down A’s leg, A casts about for a means to defend himself. 

Although not one of A’s fellow Wombat fans comes to his aid, A sees Ol’ Womby nearby. Ol’ Womby is a metal statuette of the Wombats’ mascot (a wombat, of course). Wombat fans have long used the statuette as a good luck charm. As B moves to stab A again, A snatches the statuette and hurls it at B’s head—quite accurately, as the statuette hits B right between his eyes. The impact ruptures an undiagnosed aneurism in B’s brain; B instantly collapses and dies.

In a common-law jurisdiction, A is arrested and charged with murder.

Assume the prosecution can prove the above facts at A’s trial. Assume also that the prosecution can prove the prima facie elements of murder beyond a reasonable doubt.


Questions

  1. In a common-law jurisdiction, does A have a valid defense of self-defense? Explain, applying only the common law, but 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 self-defense? Explain, applying only the common law, but 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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