Skip to content
Name: People v. Adams
Case #: G039967
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 08/18/2009

The jury instructions regarding the interplay between self defense and a citizen’s arrest were not conflicting. Appellant fell asleep while driving on the freeway and collided with a car in front of him. Although appellant’s passengers told him that he hit a car, appellant said he was not sure, drove around the car, and exited the freeway. The people in the car that had been hit followed him to a park. Appellant said he feared he was going to get jumped and ran away, but the men caught him and begin to him hit. According to the victims, they chased appellant to detain him and it was appellant who pulled the first punch, and who hit the driver so hard, he hit his head on the ground. So, the passenger decided to stop the pursuit. At appellant’s trial for hit and run and battery causing serious bodily injury, the court gave instructions on self-defense and on citizen’s arrest, and in response to a jury question, instructed on the interplay between the two by stating that a person effectuating a citizen’s arrest may use reasonable force to detain the person, but if the citizen uses excessive force, the defendant has the right to defend himself. Appellant argued the instructions were conflicting because the jury could have interpreted them to mean he could act in self-defense only if the other person actually used excessive force. While the instruction was not a model of clarity, when it was considered in conjunction with other CALCRIM instructions, the only sensible interpretation was that if the arresting party took a swing, the arrestee did not have to wait until the blow landed before defending himself.