Reversal in Court of Appeals on defense of necessity.

Martez Taylor was convicted on the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in Hinds County in July of 2016. The Court of Appeals reversed the conviction due to the trial court’s refusal to give a jury instruction regarding the defense of necessity. Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is generally a per se crime, that is, “taken alone”. Is the Defendant a convicted felon? Yes. Did the Defendant have a firearm? Yes. Guilty. However, even in cases such as that, one can have a necessity defense. The necessity defense requires a showing that “(1) the act charged was done to prevent a significant evil; (2) there [was] no adequate alternative; and (3) the harm caused was not disproportionate to the harm avoided.” Taylor’s girlfriend’s aunt was threatening Taylor and he grabbed the gun and fled. He went to his mother’s home and gave the gun and other items he had taken inadvertently in his rush to flee to his mother so that they could immediately be returned. (He was also indicted for robbery due to the taking of the items, but the jury acquitted him on that charge.) The trial court refused the necessity instruction and the State argued that Taylor kept the gun after the necessity had passed as he could have thrown the gun out of the motel room they were in, or handed it to his girlfriend. The Court of Appeals refused those arguments as “untenable” (a word that isn’t used nearly enough).

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