College Essay Examples

Case Debrief

Rule of law: Can necessity be asserted as a defense to a charge of driving a vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor?

Facts: Hoagland was intoxicated and was sleeping in his truck, parked in an employee parking stall at the Salvation Army in Las Vegas, before being asked by a security guard to move his truck to another location. Attempting to obey the order, Hoagland backed into another parked vehicle and drove his truck to the other side of the building. The security officer called the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, who conducted a field sobriety test on Hoagland, which he failed. He was arrested for driving under the influence.

Procedural History: Hoagland told the jury that he had no choice but to drive under while intoxicated. The court, however contested the defense, claiming that defense by necessity was not applicable in the state of Nevada. Hoagland entered into an Alford plea; he pleaded guilty provided that his right to appeal was maintained. He claimed that prior to being asked to move by the security guard, he had given away his keys as he had no intention of driving while intoxicated. He only drove for fear of having his truck and belongings impounded. He appealed the court’s decision to ask the jury to rule out his defense.

Decision: The court upheld the decision of the district court. 

Reasoning: The district court was not in contravention of state law, and acted in accordance to such law in asking the jury to disregard the necessity defense as such a law did not exist in Nevada. The court further found that by parking his truck in a prohibited stall, the defendant contributed to the situation whereby he would operate his truck under the influence.

Analysis: A defendant can use the necessity defense, if the negative consequences of their actions were outweighed by their benefits. The judgment delivered against the accused was fair.


Hoagland v. State, 126 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 37, 52704, (2010).

COMMONWEALTH of Virginia – Plaintiff, Appellant

Jon Douglas ALEXANDER. – Defendant, Appellee 

Rule of law: Can a deadly weapon be brandished in defense of personal property?

Facts: Eustler owned the defendant’s vehicle and went to the defendant’s house to repossess it.  While there, he granted the defendant permission to take out some documents. The defendant claims that as he was inside the car, Eustler approached the defendant in a belligerent manner demanding for the car keys. The defendant went into the house and came out with both the keys and a rifle. He placed the rifle on his shoulder when he felt threatened by Eustler; although he did not point the gun directly at Eustler.

Procedural history: the defendant was charged and found guilty of brandishing a firearm by a Rockbridge County court. He appealed the decision to a circuit court. During proceedings, the court refused to grant his instruction to the jury to find him not guilty of the charges, should they find that he reasonably brandished the firearm to protect his property. The jury found the defendant guilty. To which he appealed to the Court of Appeals of Virginia.  The court of appeals reversed the case back to the trial court, saying that it had made a mistake in refusing to grant the instruction.

Decision: The Supreme Court upheld the trial court was correct and the Court of Appeals should not have reversed the trial court’s judgment.

Reasoning: The court upheld that the brandishing of a deadly weapon has been considered assault. The threat to the defendant did not warrant the use of excessive force, and he did not have the right to assault the trespasser with a lethal weapon.

Analysis: Had the ruling by the Court of Appeals been upheld, the definition of assault by deadly weapon would have to be changed, and would set precedence on the use of excessive force to quell insignificant disputes. As seen, protection of physical property under circumstances presented in this case, does not warrant the loss of life. The ruling by the Supreme Court was therefore fair.


Commonwealth of Virginia v. Jon Douglas ALEXANDER, (2000)

Avatar photo

By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts