senate Bill S281

2011-2012 Legislative Session

Authorizes a person to use physical force, including deadly physical force in defense of a person, in defense of a premises or in defense of a dwelling, residence or vehicle; repealer

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 04, 2012 referred to codes
Jan 05, 2011 referred to codes

Co-Sponsors

S281 - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Senate Codes
Law Section:
Penal Law
Laws Affected:
Rpld & add §§35.15, 35.20 & 35.25, amd §265.35, Pen L
Versions Introduced in 2009-2010 Legislative Session:
S3211

S281 - Bill Texts

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Authorizes a person to use physical force, including deadly physical force in defense of a person, in defense of a premises or in defense of a dwelling, residence or vehicle under specific circumstances; creates a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm exists under certain circumstances.

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BILL NUMBER:S281

TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the penal law, in relation to authorizing a person to
use physical force, including deadly physical force in defense of a
person, in defense of a premises or in defense of a dwelling,
residence or vehicle under specific circumstances and in relation to
creating a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily
harm exists under certain circumstances; and repealing certain
provisions of such law relating thereto

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
Authorizes a person to use physical force, including deadly physical
force in defense of a person, in defense of premises or in defense of
a dwelling, residence or vehicle. Repeal the "duty to retreat" clause,
while providing protection from criminal prosecution for those who
defend themselves from criminal attack.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1 repeals §35.15 of the penal law and adds a new a new §35.l5
- Justification; use of physical force in defense of a person.
Subdivision I justifies the use of physical force, except deadly
physical force, when necessary to defend himself/herself against
another's use of unlawful force. Subdivision 2 provides that a person
may use force, including deadly force, against an intruder or attacker
in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle under certain circumstances and
declares that a person is not under a duty to retreat. States that it
is a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or bodily injury, to
herself/himself or another, exists under certain circumstances.
Subdivision 3 provides circumstances when a person is not justified in
the use of deadly physical force.

Section 2 repeals §35.20 of the penal law and odds a new §35.20 -
Justification; use of physical force in defense of premises.
Subdivision 1 justifies the use of physical force, except deadly
physical force, when necessary to prevent or eliminate the other's
trespass on, or other tortuous or criminal interference with, his/her
real or personal property - with certain exceptions. Subdivision 2
provides that a person may Use deadly force, against an intruder or
attacker in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle under certain
circumstances and declares that a person is not under a duty to
retreat. States that it is a presumption that a reasonable fear of
death or bodily injury, to himself/herself or another, exists under
certain circumstances.

Section 3 repeals §35.25 of the penal law and adds a new § 35.25 -
Justification; use of physical force in defense of Premises.
Subdivision 1 creates a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or
bodily injury, to himself/herself or another, exists under certain
circumstances. Subdivision 2 Provides circumstances when a person is
not justified in the use of deadly physical force.

Subdivision 3 states that it is a presumption that a person who
unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person's
dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle does so with the intent to


commit an unlawful act involving force or violence. Subdivision 4
defines "dwelling," "residence" and "vehicle."

Section 4 amends subdivision 3 of section 265.35 of the penal law -
Expands legal exemption for discharging a firearm, air-gun or other
weapon to include "in defense of premises."

Section 5 is the effective date.

EXISTING LAW:
§35.15 - Justification; use of physical force in defense of a person.
§35.20 - Justification; use of physical force in defense of premises
and in defense of a person in the course of burglary.
§35.25 - Justification; use of physical force to prevent or terminate
larceny or criminal mischief.
§265.35 - Prohibited use of weapons.

JUSTIFICATION:
Current New York state Penal Law states that a person acting in
self-defense may use force, but has a "duty to retreat," even when he
or she "reasonably believes that such other person intruder, attacker.
etc. is using or about to use deadly physical force." This section of
law allows for the unjust prosecution of vigilant citizens, victimized
by (or attempted) unlawful and forceful criminal action towards person
and/or premises. This proposal would provide legal protection from
criminal prosecution for those who defend themselves from criminal
attack. Furthermore, it would clarify that the intruder's intent, by
physically violating the rights of another person(s), is harmful.
Clarifying this intent resolves the ambiguity of current law and
relinquishes the undue burden of assessment current law has placed on
the victim.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
S.7173/A.8182-A of 2007-2008; Referred to Senate Codes Committee
S.3211/A.6498 of 2009-2010; Referred to Senate Codes

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect on the first of November next succeeding
the date on which it shall have become a law.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                   281

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 5, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sens. MAZIARZ, LARKIN, RANZENHOFER, SEWARD -- read twice
  and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee
  on Codes

AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to authorizing  a  person  to
  use  physical  force,  including deadly physical force in defense of a
  person, in defense of a premises or in defense of  a  dwelling,  resi-
  dence  or  vehicle  under  specific  circumstances  and in relation to
  creating a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily
  harm  exists  under  certain  circumstances;  and  repealing   certain
  provisions of such law relating thereto

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Section 35.15 of the  penal  law  is  REPEALED  and  a  new
section 35.15 is added to read as follows:
S 35.15 JUSTIFICATION; USE OF PHYSICAL FORCE IN DEFENSE OF A PERSON.
  1.  A  PERSON IS JUSTIFIED IN THE USE OF PHYSICAL FORCE, EXCEPT DEADLY
PHYSICAL FORCE, AGAINST ANOTHER WHEN AND TO THE EXTENT THAT  THE  PERSON
REASONABLY  BELIEVES THAT SUCH CONDUCT IS NECESSARY TO DEFEND HIMSELF OR
HERSELF OR ANOTHER AGAINST THE OTHER'S IMMINENT USE OF UNLAWFUL FORCE.
  2. A PERSON IS JUSTIFIED IN THE USE OF DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE AND  DOES
NOT HAVE A DUTY TO RETREAT IF:
  (A)  HE  OR  SHE  REASONABLY  BELIEVES THAT SUCH FORCE IS NECESSARY TO
PREVENT IMMINENT DEATH OR GREAT BODILY HARM TO  HIMSELF  OR  HERSELF  OR
ANOTHER;
  (B) HE OR SHE REASONABLY BELIEVES THAT SUCH OTHER PERSON IS COMMITTING
OR  ATTEMPTING  TO COMMIT A KIDNAPPING, FORCIBLE RAPE, FORCIBLE CRIMINAL
SEXUAL ACT OR ROBBERY;
  (C) HE OR SHE REASONABLY BELIEVES THAT SUCH OTHER PERSON IS COMMITTING
OR ATTEMPTING TO COMMIT A BURGLARY, AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SUCH  THAT

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD01664-01-1

S. 281                              2

THE  USE  OF  DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE IS NECESSARY TO PREVENT OR TERMINATE
THE COMMISSION OR ATTEMPTED COMMISSION OF SUCH BURGLARY;
  (D)  A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER, OR A PERSON ASSISTING A POLICE
OFFICER OR A PEACE OFFICER AT THE DIRECTION OF SUCH  POLICE  OFFICER  OR
PEACE OFFICER, IS ACTING PURSUANT TO SECTION 35.30 OF THIS ARTICLE; OR
  (E)  UNDER  THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES PERMITTED PURSUANT TO SECTION 35.25 OF
THIS ARTICLE.
  3. A PERSON IS NOT JUSTIFIED IN THE USE  OF  THE  FORCE  DESCRIBED  IN
SUBDIVISIONS ONE AND TWO OF THIS SECTION WHEN:
  (A)  HE  OR SHE IS ATTEMPTING TO COMMIT, COMMITTING, OR ESCAPING AFTER
THE COMMISSION OF, A MURDER, KIDNAPPING, FORCIBLE RAPE, FORCIBLE  CRIMI-
NAL SEXUAL ACT, ROBBERY OR BURGLARY;
  (B)  HE  OR SHE INITIALLY PROVOKES THE USE OF FORCE AGAINST HIMSELF OR
HERSELF, UNLESS:
  (I) SUCH FORCE IS SO GREAT THAT THE PERSON REASONABLY BELIEVES THAT HE
OR SHE IS IN IMMINENT DANGER OF DEATH OR GREAT BODILY HARM AND  THAT  HE
OR  SHE HAS EXHAUSTED EVERY REASONABLE MEANS TO ESCAPE SUCH DANGER OTHER
THAN THE USE OF FORCE WHICH IS LIKELY TO CAUSE  DEATH  OR  GREAT  BODILY
HARM TO THE ASSAILANT; OR
  (II)  IN  GOOD  FAITH, THE PERSON WITHDRAWS FROM PHYSICAL CONTACT WITH
THE ASSAILANT AND INDICATES CLEARLY TO THE  ASSAILANT  THAT  HE  OR  SHE
DESIRES  TO  WITHDRAW  AND TERMINATE THE USE OF FORCE, BUT THE ASSAILANT
CONTINUES OR RESUMES THE USE OF FORCE; OR
  (C) THE PHYSICAL FORCE INVOLVED IS THE PRODUCT OF A COMBAT  BY  AGREE-
MENT NOT SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED BY LAW.
  S  2.  Section  35.20  of  the penal law is REPEALED and a new section
35.20 is added to read as follows:
S 35.20 JUSTIFICATION; USE OF PHYSICAL FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PREMISES.
  1. A PERSON IS JUSTIFIED IN THE USE OF PHYSICAL FORCE,  EXCEPT  DEADLY
PHYSICAL  FORCE,  AGAINST ANOTHER WHEN AND TO THE EXTENT THAT THE PERSON
REASONABLY BELIEVES THAT SUCH CONDUCT IS NECESSARY TO PREVENT OR  TERMI-
NATE THE OTHER'S TRESPASS ON, OR OTHER TORTIOUS OR CRIMINAL INTERFERENCE
WITH,  EITHER REAL PROPERTY OTHER THAN A DWELLING, OR PERSONAL PROPERTY,
LAWFULLY IN HIS OR HER POSSESSION OR IN THE POSSESSION OF ANOTHER WHO IS
A MEMBER OF HIS OR HER IMMEDIATE FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD OR A  PERSON  WHOSE
PROPERTY HE OR SHE HAS A LEGAL DUTY TO PROTECT.
  2.  A  PERSON  IS JUSTIFIED IN THE USE OF A DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE ONLY
IF:
  (A) HE OR SHE REASONABLY BELIEVES THAT  SUCH  FORCE  IS  NECESSARY  TO
PREVENT  IMMINENT  DEATH  OR  GREAT BODILY HARM TO HIMSELF OR HERSELF OR
ANOTHER;
  (B) HE OR SHE REASONABLY BELIEVES THAT SUCH OTHER PERSON IS COMMITTING
OR ATTEMPTING TO COMMIT A KIDNAPPING, FORCIBLE RAPE,  FORCIBLE  CRIMINAL
SEXUAL ACT, ROBBERY OR ARSON;
  (C) HE OR SHE REASONABLY BELIEVES THAT SUCH OTHER PERSON IS COMMITTING
OR  ATTEMPTING TO COMMIT A BURGLARY, AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE SUCH THAT
THE USE OF DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE IS NECESSARY TO  PREVENT  OR  TERMINATE
THE COMMISSION OR ATTEMPTED COMMISSION OF SUCH BURGLARY; OR
  (D)  A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER, OR A PERSON ASSISTING A POLICE
OFFICER OR A PEACE OFFICER AT THE LATTER'S DIRECTION, IS ACTING  IN  THE
PERFORMANCE OF HIS OR HER DUTIES.
  3.  A  PERSON  DOES  NOT  HAVE A DUTY TO RETREAT IF THE PERSON IS IN A
PLACE WHERE HE OR SHE HAS A RIGHT TO BE.
  S 3. Section 35.25 of the penal law is  REPEALED  and  a  new  section
35.25 is added to read as follows:

S. 281                              3

S 35.25 JUSTIFICATION;  USE  OF  DEADLY  PHYSICAL  FORCE IN DEFENSE OF A
          DWELLING, RESIDENCE OR OCCUPIED VEHICLE.
  1.  A  PERSON  IS  PRESUMED TO HAVE HELD A REASONABLE FEAR OF IMMINENT
DEATH OR GREAT BODILY HARM TO HIMSELF OR HERSELF OR ANOTHER  WHEN  USING
DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE IF:
  (A)  THE PERSON AGAINST WHOM THE DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE WAS USED WAS IN
THE PROCESS OF UNLAWFULLY AND FORCEFULLY ENTERING, OR HAD UNLAWFULLY AND
FORCIBLY ENTERED A DWELLING, RESIDENCE, OR OCCUPIED VEHICLE, OR IF  THAT
PERSON  HAD  REMOVED  OR  WAS  ATTEMPTING TO REMOVE ANOTHER AGAINST THAT
PERSON'S WILL FROM THE DWELLING, RESIDENCE, OR OCCUPIED VEHICLE; AND
  (B) THE ACTOR WHO USES DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE KNEW  OR  HAD  REASON  TO
BELIEVE THAT AN UNLAWFUL AND FORCIBLE ENTRY OR UNLAWFUL AND FORCIBLE ACT
WAS OCCURRING OR HAD OCCURRED.
  2.  THE  PRESUMPTION SET FORTH IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION DOES
NOT APPLY IF:
  (A) THE PERSON AGAINST WHOM THE DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE IS USED, HAS THE
RIGHT TO BE IN OR IS A LAWFUL RESIDENT OF THE  DWELLING,  RESIDENCE,  OR
VEHICLE,  SUCH  AS AN OWNER, LESSEE, OR TITLEHOLDER, AND THERE IS NOT AN
INJUNCTION FOR PROTECTION FROM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OR A  WRITTEN  JUDICIAL
ORDER OF NO CONTACT AGAINST THAT PERSON;
  (B)  THE PERSON WHO USES DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE IS ENGAGED IN AN UNLAW-
FUL ACTIVITY OR IS USING THE DWELLING, RESIDENCE, OR OCCUPIED VEHICLE TO
FURTHER UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY; OR
  (C) THE PERSON AGAINST WHOM DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE IS USED IS A  POLICE
OFFICER  OR  PEACE  OFFICER, WHO ENTERS OR ATTEMPTS TO ENTER A DWELLING,
RESIDENCE, OR VEHICLE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OR HER  OFFICIAL  DUTIES
AND  THE  OFFICER  IDENTIFIED  HIMSELF OR HERSELF IN ACCORDANCE WITH ANY
APPLICABLE LAW OR THE PERSON USING DEADLY PHYSICAL FORCE KNEW OR REASON-
ABLY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT THE PERSON ENTERING OR ATTEMPTING  TO  ENTER
WAS A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER.
  3.  A PERSON WHO UNLAWFULLY AND BY FORCE ENTERS, OR ATTEMPTS TO ENTER,
A PERSON'S DWELLING, RESIDENCE, OR OCCUPIED VEHICLE IS  PRESUMED  TO  BE
DOING  SO  WITH  THE INTENT TO COMMIT AN UNLAWFUL ACT INVOLVING FORCE OR
VIOLENCE.
  4. AS USED IN THIS SECTION, THE FOLLOWING  TERMS  HAVE  THE  FOLLOWING
MEANINGS:
  (A)  "DWELLING" IS A BUILDING OR CONVEYANCE OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING ANY
ATTACHED PORCH, WHETHER THE  BUILDING  OR  CONVEYANCE  IS  TEMPORARY  OR
PERMANENT,  MOBILE  OR  IMMOBILE,  WHICH HAS A ROOF OVER IT, INCLUDING A
TENT, AND IS DESIGNED TO BE OCCUPIED BY PEOPLE LODGING THEREIN AT NIGHT;
  (B) "RESIDENCE" IS A DWELLING IN WHICH A PERSON RESIDES EITHER  TEMPO-
RARILY OR PERMANENTLY OR IS VISITING AS AN INVITED GUEST;
  (C)  "VEHICLE"  IS A CONVEYANCE OF ANY KIND, WHETHER OR NOT MOTORIZED,
WHICH IS DESIGNED TO TRANSPORT PEOPLE OR PROPERTY.
  S 4. Subdivision 3 of section 265.35 of the penal law,  as  renumbered
by chapter 1041 of the laws of 1974, is amended to read as follows:
  3. Any person who, otherwise than in self defense, IN DEFENSE OF PREM-
ISES  or  in the discharge of official duty, (a) wilfully discharges any
species of firearms, air-gun or other weapon, or throws any other deadly
missile, either in a public place, or in any place where  there  is  any
person  to be endangered thereby, or, in Putnam county, within one-quar-
ter mile of any occupied school building  other  than  under  supervised
instruction by properly authorized instructors although no injury to any
person  ensues;  (b)  intentionally,  without malice, points or aims any
firearm or any other gun, the propelling force of which is gunpowder, at
or toward any other person; (c) discharges, without injury to any  other

S. 281                              4

person,  firearms  or  any  other guns, the propelling force of which is
gunpowder, while intentionally without malice, aimed at  or  toward  any
person; or (d) maims or injures any other person by the discharge of any
firearm  or  any  other gun, the propelling force of which is gunpowder,
pointed or aimed intentionally, but without malice, at any such  person,
is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
  S 5. This act shall take effect on the first of November next succeed-
ing the date on which it shall have become a law.

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