California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

1304. Self-Defense/Defense of Others

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1304.Affirmative Defense—Self-Defense/Defense of Others
[Name of defendant] claims that [he/she] is not responsible for [name of
plaintiff]’s harm because [he/she] was acting in [self-defense/defense of
another]. To succeed, [name of defendant] must prove both of the
following:
1. That [name of defendant] reasonably believed that [name of
plaintiff] was going to harm [him/her/[insert identification of other
person]]; and
2. That [name of defendant] used only the amount of force that was
reasonably necessary to protect [himself/herself/[insert
identification of other person]].
New September 2003; Revised June 2014
Sources and Authority
• Self Defense. Civil Code section 50.
• “When an alleged act of self-defense . . . is at issue, the question of what force
was reasonable and justified is peculiarly one for determination by the trier of
fact.” (Burton v. Sanner (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 12, 14 [142 Cal.Rptr.3d 782],
original italics.)
• “Self-defense being an affirmative defense, it must, in a civil action, be
established by the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence.” (Bartosh v.
Banning (1967) 251 Cal.App.2d 378, 386 [59 Cal.Rptr. 382].)
• “In a suit for assault and battery, the defendant is not liable if that defendant
reasonably believed, in view of all the circumstances of the case, that the
plaintiff was going to harm him or her and the defendant used only the amount
of force reasonably necessary to protect himself or herself.” (J.J. v. M.F. (2014)
223 Cal.App.4th 968, 976 [167 Cal.Rptr.3d 670] [citing this instruction].)
• “The right to use force against another has long been limited by the condition
that the force be no more than ‘ “that which reasonably appears necessary, in
view of all the circumstances of the case, to prevent the impending injury.”
‘When the amount of force used is justifiable under the circumstances, it is not
willful and the actor may escape liability for intentionally injurious conduct that
is otherwise actionable. But if force is applied in excess of that which is
justified, the actor remains subject to liability for the damages resulting from
the excessive use of force. . . . When an alleged act of self-defense or defense
of property is at issue, the question of what force was reasonable and justified
is peculiarly one for determination by the trier of fact.” (Calvillo-Silva v. Home
Grocery (1998) 19 Cal.4th 714, 730–731 [80 Cal.Rptr.2d 506, 968 P.2d 65],
internal citations omitted.)
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• “The right of self-defense is not limited by actualities. The correct rule . . .
[is]: ‘Generally . . . , the force that one may use in self-defense is that which
reasonably appears necessary, in view of all the circumstances of the case, to
prevent the impending injury.’ In emphasizing that the law of self-defense is a
law of necessity courts should never lose sight of the fact that the necessity
may be either real or apparent.” (Vaughn v. Jonas (1948) 31 Cal.2d 586,
599–600 [191 P.2d 432], internal citations omitted.)
• “The reasonableness standard is an objective standard.” (Burton, supra, 207
Cal.App.4th at p. 20.)
Secondary Sources
5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 417–421, 423
3Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 41, Assault and Battery, § 41.21 (Matthew
Bender)
6 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 58, Assault and Battery,
§§ 58.19–58.20, 58.70–58.71 (Matthew Bender)
2 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 21, Assault and Battery, § 21.40 et seq.
(Matthew Bender)
1 California Civil Practice: Torts §§ 12:20–12:21 (Thomson Reuters)
ASSAULT AND BATTERY CACI No. 1304
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