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Evidence does not support stand-your-ground defense

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A man’s attempt to bolster his defense by using Indiana’s stand-your-ground law was rejected because the evidence did not support his claim.

Dwight Hayes was arrested and charged after he pointed two handguns at Natasha McDaniel who was trying to serve him with legal documents. McDaniel remained on the public sidewalk outside Hayes’ home and never tried to enter his front yard.

At trial, Hayes wanted the jury instructions to contain the information that a person may use reasonable force, including deadly force, to prevent unlawful entry or attack on his property. In addition, he wanted the jury to be told that the state has the burden of proving the defendant did not act in defense of his property.

Although the Marion Superior Court found the instruction was a correct statement of the law, the court rejected the three paragraphs since there was no evidence indicating his property was being attacked.

On appeal, Hayes pointed out that McDaniel first walked into his yard and knocked on his front door, and then returned to her truck before he confronted her. This, he argued, established why he believed he needed to prevent any unlawful re-entry onto his property.

The Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the trial court’s ruling in Dwight Hayes v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1312-CR-619.

“Although McDaniel has knocked on Hayes’s front door in an effort to serve him with legal documents, she had returned to her truck and was completing paperwork when Hayes arrived in the front yard with two guns,” Judge Michael Barnes, wrote for the court. “At that point, McDaniel got out of her truck to talk to Hayes but remained on the public sidewalk at all times. Her friend testified she was 100 percent sure that McDaniel did not try to open the gate again. There simply is no evidence that McDaniel was attempting to attack or unlawfully enter Hayes’s property when Hayes pointed the guns at McDaniel.”

 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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