Minnesota Supreme Court reviews dwelling defense law - KMSP-TV

DWELLING DEFENSE: Do shared hallways in apartments count?

Posted: Updated:

WASECA, Minn. (AP) - A Waseca man is asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to decide whether his self-defense rights under the state's "defense of dwelling" laws extends to his apartment's shared hallway.

Daniel Devens, 51, encountered an intoxicated man in October 2011 in the shared second-floor hallway, according to the Mankato Free Press. The man was knocking loud and Devens asked him to leave the building.

The two men's accounts vary at this point. Devens claims the man took several swings at him while he was walking the man out. The man claims Devens attacked him as he walked down the hallway, resulting in a fight.

In the end, the men both fell down the stairs to an entrance. The intoxicated man suffered injuries that hospitalized him for approximately a week. Devens was charged with felony first-degree assault, felony third-degree assault and misdemeanor fifth-degree assault. A jury convicted him of the third-degree and fifth-degree charges.

Devens appealed his third-degree conviction, saying the jury should have been given the "defense of dwelling" instructions during trial. The jury was only given instruction on the general self-defense requirements.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals denied his appeal and affirmed the lower court's ruling. The Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling by Aug. 30.

Minnesota self-defense laws rule that individuals have a duty to retreat. The "defense of dwelling" law gives a narrow expansion of "reasonable force" that can be used, including lethal force, to prevent a crime or attack in an individual's home.

Devens argued his "defense of dwelling" rights extended to the shared apartment hallway, similar to how self-defense rights can apply to the porch on a home. He claimed the intoxicated man was trespassing and he had the right to stop the potential crime.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals argued the definition did not apply in this case. The court said Devens did not own the building or the hallway. Similarly, the court noted he had no legal rights that allow him to exclude people from the shared area. Finally, the court noted the intoxicated man had allegedly been invited to the building by another individual.


Information from: The Free Press, http://www.mankatofreepress.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Search for Ty Hoffman called off after bank robbery in Blaine, Minn.

    Search for Ty Hoffman called off after bank robbery in Blaine, Minn.

    Monday, September 1 2014 9:11 PM EDT2014-09-02 01:11:43 GMT
    Ramsey County sheriff's officials said the search for Ty Hoffman has "heated up" after a suspect in the robbery at TCF Bank in Blaine appeared to match his description on Sunday.
    Ramsey County sheriff's officials said the search for Ty Hoffman has "heated up" after a suspect in the robbery at TCF Bank in Blaine appeared to match his description on Sunday.
  • 50 favorite photos from the Minnesota State Fair

    50 favorite photos from the Minnesota State Fair

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:26 AM EDT2014-09-02 12:26:10 GMT
    MNFFA Association visits the Fox 9 booth with a Miracle of BirthMNFFA Association visits the Fox 9 booth with a Miracle of Birth
    The Great Minnesota Get-Together is back with its hottest starting day in 20 years, 28 new foods and thousands of memories to be captured in photographs.
    The Great Minnesota Get-Together is back with its hottest starting day in 20 years, 28 new foods and thousands of memories to be captured in photographs.
  • The best tractor at the Minnesota State Fair

    The best tractor at the Minnesota State Fair

    Monday, September 1 2014 10:52 PM EDT2014-09-02 02:52:59 GMT
    The Great Minnesota Get Together wrapped up on Monday night, but although many people took home new prizes, one young man says the title he won pales in comparison to what getting there means to him.
    The Great Minnesota Get Together wrapped up on Monday night, but although many people took home new prizes, one young man says the title he won pales in comparison to what getting there means to him.
Widgets Magazine
Powered by WorldNow

KMSP-TV
11358 Viking Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

Phone: (952) 944-9999
Fax: (952) 942-0455

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices