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Jenkins v. State

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Jenkins was charged and convicted of manslaughter after killing another individual during a confrontation in Jenkins’ driveway.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    There is no duty to retreat before using deadly force to protect yourself or your home from attack, under the castle doctrine, when a person is violently assaulted in his residence or the immediate surrounding premises.

    Facts.

    Jenkins (defendant) owned two mobile homes occupied by his family, with Jenkins occupying one of the mobile homes and his wife and children occupying the other. The two mobile homes were divided by a narrow common driveway. At one point, while Jenkins was in his trailer, his daughter came and informed him about an argument she had recently had with another woman. The woman’s boyfriend, Bryan Cerezo, proceeded to come to the trailer and began shouting and banging on the door of the trailer. Jenkins come outside of the trailer and asked Cerezo to leave his property, which Cerezo refused. Three witnesses saw Cerezo pacing around the property and the common driveway and heard him threaten to kill Jenkins and his family and baited Jenkins into a fight. Cerezo then charged Jenkins and hit him in the face, causing Jenkins to stumble and take a step back. Jenkins then removed a six inch knife from his work belt. Cerezo then threatened that he had a pistol and was going to shoot Jenkins. Cerezo then charged Jenkins again and Jenkins reflexively raised his knife in order to protect himself, killing Cerezo. Witnesses testified Jenkins had no room to retreat. The prosecution argued that the common driveway was not part of premise and the court denied Jenkins’ motion for judgment of acquittal.

    Issue.

    Whether there is a duty to retreat before using deadly force to protect yourself or your home from attack, under the castle doctrine, when a person is violently assaulted in his residence or the immediate surrounding premises.

    Held.

    No, there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force to protect yourself or your home from attack under the castle doctrine when a person is violently assaulted in his residence or the immediate surrounding premises.

    Discussion.

    While there was a duty to retreat under common law before an individual may use deadly force in self defense the standard is completely different regarding a person being attacked in their home or surrounding premises. When a person is in their home or the surrounding premises, then they may use deadly force when faced with a threat of serious bodily harm or death. Here, the common driveway is considered part of the premises and Jenkins had no duty to retreat back into his trailer before using deadly force, because it is clear he was in danger of seriously bodily harm.


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