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State v. Abbott

(1961)

Supreme Court of New Jersey - 36 N.J. 63

tl;dr:

The duty to retreat is only required when the defendant uses deadly force.

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Facts & HoldingState v. Abbott case brief facts & holding

Facts:Abbott and the Scaranos were having a dispute over the...

Holding:Abbott was no the aggressor and was not a party...

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State v. Abbott | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: Weintraub, C. J.
Level 1
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The court is considering whether a defendant needs to show "plain error" to challenge the instruction given by the trial court in a case involving atrocious assault and battery. The court upholds the principle of retreat, but acknowledges that it should be reasonably limited and not applied in all situations. The doctrine of retreat applies to cases of homicide, assault with intent to kill, and atrocious assault and battery. The defendant's knowledge of the opportunity to retreat safely at the time of the attack is crucial in determining the issue of retreat. An instruction on retreat is appropriate in a trial for atrocious assault and battery, but it should be focused on the use of deadly force. If the defendant had an available opportunity to retreat and was threatened with imminent danger of life or serious bodily harm, there is no duty to retreat. However, if the defendant did not appear to be threatened with imminent danger of life or great bodily harm, he had a duty to retreat. If he failed to retreat, the defense of self-defense would not be applicable and would not constitute a defense to the charges.

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