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Criminal Law

Exam 20
30 minutes

Fact Pattern

A’s employer fires him. To pass the time, unemployed A watches super-hero movies virtually nonstop for the next three months. Afterwards, A decides to follow his movie heroes’ example, get up off the couch, and be the change the world needs. To that end, A constructs his own super-hero costume. That night, A hits the streets under the persona of the Crimson Avenger, ready to stop some crime. 

An hour or so into this inaugural patrol through the city, the Crimson Avenger, A, sees that B, a grown man, is about to kick a dog. Yelling “Halt, evildoer! The Crimson Avenger is here!” A intervenes, beating B with his “crimson bat of justice,” a plastic whiffle ball bat covered in red glitter. 

Next, A—still acting as the Crimson Avenger—sees that C is about to strike a human child. A believes that he must intervene to stop C from injuring the child, so he smacks C with his bat of justice. But it turns out that C is the child’s father; when A struck C, C and the child were playing an innocuous game, pretending to be warring ninjas. Even so, the father and child are extremely adept at playing ninjas, such that any reasonable person would have thought that C was about to strike the child in earnest. 

About a week later, A, dressed as the Crimson Avenger, again patrols the city. Early on, he hears a woman screaming and runs toward the sound. From several blocks away, he soon observes a woman running down a busy street, shrieking for help. A man, D, is wearing a devil mask, revving a chainsaw, and chasing the woman. A murderer! A thinks. 

A believes that he must intervene to keep D from killing the woman, so A smacks D’s head with the crimson bat of justice. To A’s great surprise, the devil mask slides off, revealing a famous actor. As security guards tackle A, he notices a spotlight and filming rig overhead, along with signs posted all around, announcing that movie filming is in progress. 

In a Model Penal Code (MPC) jurisdiction, A is arrested and charged with three counts of assault, for beating B, C, and D with the crimson bat of justice. In this jurisdiction, assault liability attaches if a person “ recklessly causes bodily injury to another.” Assume that the crimson bat of justice is not a deadly weapon. 

Also assume that, at A’s trial, the prosecution can prove the above facts, which make out a prima facie case of assault concerning B, C, and D.


Questions

  1. Under the MPC (not the common law), does A have a valid defense-of-others defense to the three charges of assault? Explain, analyzing each count of assault separately.

Question 1

Under the MPC (not the common law), does A have a valid defense-of-others defense to the three charges of assault? Explain, analyzing each count of assault separately.

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