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People v. Samuels

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Samuels was charged with assault after he took pictures of himself maliciously whipping another individual.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A criminal defendant cannot assert a defense of consent when they are charged with assault. 

    Facts.

    Samuels made multiple films depicting himself whipping another individual and sent the films to be developed, and the film company alerted authorities when they viewed the videos depicting Samuels whipping the individual. Samuels was charged with assault through force likely to cause bodily harm. One of the films was introduced into evidence depicting Samuels whipping another man while he was strung up. Samuels testified the man had contacted him about a request Samuels made for volunteers to participate in such films. Samuels claimed he wasn’t whipping the man as hard as it seemed and the wounds the man had were not real, but were cosmetically applied. However, multiple expert testified the wounds were real and no retouching was done. Samuels was convicted of assault and he appealed, arguing consent as an absolute defense.

    Issue.

    Whether a criminal defendant can assert a defense of consent when they are charged with assault?

    Held.

    No. A criminal defendant cannot assert a defense of consent when they are charged with assault. 

    Concurrence.

    None

    Discussion.

    While a defense of consent generally is inapplicable in situations such as Samuels’, it can serve as a defense for things such as contact sports. A person of sound cognitive faculties would not consent to such an act as in Samuels situation and thus, the prosecution has satisfied their burden in establishing assault. The experts testimony was proper and the jury believed it, which is evident by their guilty verdict. The statute at issue prohibits the harm Samuels inflicted on the victim and the trial court properly instructed the jury that the defense of consent is inapplicable.


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