Criminal Law, Pages 408–410

State v. Birthmark

Supreme Court of Montana, 2013

Facts:

Defendant was staying at his family's house and went to a party where he became angry and drunk. He then came home, was loud enough to wake up his mother, began staring at them, and called them "inbreds" and snitches. He then grabbed a piece of lumber and threatened to "bash [their] heads in," slice their necks and kill them, and do the same to the people at the party. He then left to get a knife and his mother called 911. When police arrived, they found his mother crying outside.

Procedural History:

Defendant was charged and convicted of assault and sentenced to four years in prison. Defendant appealed, claiming his attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel by not objecting to the mental state instructions given.

Defendant's Argument:

Defendant intended to do the threatening actions, but he did not intend them to actually cause his family to have a reasonable apprehension of bodily injury.

Issue:

Does assault require one to only his actions or also the resulting apprehension?

Rule/Holding:

LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 410

[T]he standard for determining whether there has been an offense is whether a reasonable person under similar circumstances as the victim would have a reasonable apprehension of bodily injury. "The standard is objective, asking whether a reasonable person under similar circumstances would have reasonably apprehended bodily injury." The only mental state required to convict is that the defendant have a "conscious object to engage in [the] conduct" or that he be "aware of his . . . conduct"

Judgment:

Conviction affirmed.


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