THE PROBLEMATIC USE OF THE KILL ZONE THEORY, 11 U.C. IRVINE L. REV. 583 (2020).
By Katie O’Donnell (3L Pro Bono Volunteer)
Abstract: The kill zone theory is a legal doctrine that does not exist in statute but has been used in jury instructions to aid in securing convictions for attempted murder charges. As a result of the kill zone theory, individuals in California have received lengthier sentences and, in some cases, have been convicted of crimes that fail to meet the requisite specific intent for attempted murder cases. The kill zone theory has no purpose in California law but to make the path to conviction easier and to put defendants in jail for longer. The kill zone theory is an unnecessary tool because there are several alternatives that would serve the same purpose of ensuring individuals do not evade punishment for endangering the lives of others. This Note will discuss the kill zone theory and how it came to be, explain the problematic aspects of the doctrine that end up harming defendants, propose alternative solutions to the kill zone theory, and conclude that the kill zone theory should no longer be used in California.