People v. Du
CA Appellate Court - 1992
- D and her family owned and operated two liquor stores in LA. D worked in one store in a bad part of town that had been burglarized several times.
- D was working on the day of the incident because her son had been threatened by local gang members and was afraid to work there. There were 40 shoplifting incidents per week at the store.
- Harlins, 15 year-old customer, attempted to steal orange juice, and D got into a fight with Harlins. D shot and killed Harlins.
- Probation officer concluded that D would be most unlikely to repeat the crime and was not a person who would actively seek to harm another. Recommended that D be sentenced to state prison.
- The judge suspended the sentence and placed her on probation amid a public outcry since the victim was a young black girl.
- Lower court found D guilty, probation officer recommended prison.
- Judge suspended sentence and placed D on probation.
- In determining propriety of probation, must a court consider whether the crime was committed because of unusual circumstances such as great provocation?
- In determining propriety of probation, a court must consider whether the crime was committed because of unusual circumstances such as great provocation.
- There was a presumption against probation since a firearm was used, but this was an unusual case.
- The statutory presumption is not aimed at shopkeepers who keep firearms for their own protection but against criminals who arm themselves when they commit crimes.
- D had no record of crimes or violence.
- D participated in the crime under circumstances of great provocation, coercion, and duress.
- D was not armed but used her fists as weapons seconds before she was shot.
- D did not know that the gun had been altered to make it an automatic weapon.
- Because of the repeated robberies and gang terrorism to her store, D's overreaction, although not appropriate, was understandable.
- Voluntary manslaughter - the killing of another person without premeditation, deliberation, or malice aforethought, but committed while in the "heat of passion" or upon some adequate provocation, thereby reducing the charge from murder to manslaughter.
- It is the job of the court to ensure justice, not exact revenge.
- The objectives in sentencing a D…
- Protect society
- Punish the D for committing a crime
- Encourage the D to lead a law-abiding life
- Deter others
- Isolate Ds so they cannot commit other crimes
- Secure restitution for the victim
- Seek uniformity in sentencing