Hopson v. State

Citation168 So. 810,127 Fla. 243
PartiesHOPSON v. STATE.
Decision Date13 July 1936
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida

Error to Criminal Court of Record, Polk County; Robert T. Dewell Judge.

Allan J. Hopson was convicted of assault with intent to commit manslaughter, and he brings error.

Reversed and remanded.

COUNSEL E. Snow Martin, of Bartow, for plaintiff in error.

Cary D. Landis, Atty. Gen., and Roy Campbell, Asst. Atty. Gen for defendant in error.

OPINION

BUFORD Justice.

The writ of error brings for review judgment of conviction of the offense of assault with intent to commit manslaughter under an information charging the accused, plaintiff in error here, with the offense of assault with intent to commit murder in the first degree.

The record shows that it was the contention of the accused that the wound inflicted which constituted the basis of the information was inflicted by accident and without intention upon his part to commit the act which caused the wound. After the evidence was in, the court charged the jury, and in the charge he included a charge embracing the law of self-defense. In the beginning of that charge he said:

'The court charges you that in this case the defendant has invoked the defense of self-defense.'

Self-defense is a plea in the nature of a confession and avoidance. In such cases the defendant confesses doing the act charged, but seeks to justify that act upon the claim that it was necessary to commit the act to save himself from death or great bodily harm.

A homicide committed in self-defense is justifiable. Where homicide is committed by accident or misfortune, the homicide is excusable, such as where, as was claimed in this case, a pistol was accidently and unintentionally discharged.

The defendant in this case claimed that his wife assaulted him, and that while they were engaged in a fight the wife pulled his pistol out of his holster, where he was carrying it, and that he attempted to take the pistol away from her; that in the struggle over the pistol the pistol was discharged by accident and unintentionally, with the result that Mrs. Hopson was injured in her arm.

Mrs. Hopson testified in effect that in the culmination of a fight in which Hopson was the aggressor and in which she hit him over the head and face with a pair of handcuffs, and in which Mr. Hopson had slapped her several times and had bitten her finger and she had bitten him on the nose, that finally, after a bystander had advised Hopson to kill her and get her out of the way, Hopson drew his pistol and presented it in shooting position, and she slapped his arm or the pistol about the time it was discharged and deflected the pistol far enough for the bullet to miss her body, but to take effect in her arm.

So there was no evidence supporting the theory that the defendant shot his wife in necessary self-defense. His theory of the matter was, and is, that the shot was fired by accident and misfortune. Her theory was, and is, as disclosed by the record, that the defendant, without justification or excuse, attempted to kill her, and failed to do so only because she deflected the pistol in...

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12 cases
  • Martinez v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • February 21, 2008
    ...that act upon the claim that it was necessary to commit the act to save himself from death or great bodily harm. Hopson v. State, 127 Fla. 243, 168 So. 810, 811 (1936) (emphasis supplied). Thus, when a defendant asserts a claim of self-defense, he admits the commission of the criminal act w......
  • Sipple v. State
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • November 30, 2007
    ...He, therefore, never claimed he had to kill the victim to prevent his own death or great bodily harm. The State cites Hopson v. State, 127 Fla. 243, 168 So. 810 (1936), wherein the defendant contended that his wife had been the aggressor and had assaulted him. While they were fighting, the ......
  • Peterka v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • September 30, 2004
    ...of either self-defense or unintentional killing. Peterka relies on the language in this Court's 1936 decision in Hopson v. State, 127 Fla. 243, 168 So. 810 (1936), to support his argument that trial counsel were ineffective for relying on the theory of self-defense. However, this Court was ......
  • McCoy v. State, s. 5063
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • May 14, 1965
    ...we dispense with oral argument even though requested by the appellants. Affirmed. SHANNON and WHITE, JJ., concur. 1 In Hopson v. State, 1936, 127 Fla. 243, 168 So. 810, where the accused's theory was accident or misfortune and there was no evidence supporting a theory of self-defense, the g......
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