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Defense of Others

The law of defense of others closely parallels the law of self-defense. This law allows you use force (even deadly force) to defend other people when you believe that they are in imminent danger.

This law can be used as a complete defense to criminal charges. But, the jury will have to make its own interpretations regarding whether the accused rightfully responded to imminent danger or not.

The law is applicable if: The defendant had believed that another person was facing danger that would cause grievous body harm or death,

  • The defendant acted reasonably, that is any reasonable person under similar circumstances would have acted in a similar way, and
  • The force used by the respondent was reasonable, or any reasonable person would have used similar force to stop the threat.

Like the law of self-defense, the doctrine of reasonableness is essential, and therefore the defendant's belief that it was necessary is not enough, it has to be proved that a reasonable person would have used similar force if they were facing similar threat.

How is the Rule Applied?

The rule of the law of defense for others requires that the defendant must use the same force that the victim would have used in self-defense. If the victim would not have used such a force in self-defense, then the defendant has no defense and could be charged of criminal responsibility.

This rule is often referred as the rule of alter ego. For instance, if two people were rehearsing a fight for an acting session, and another person intervenes mistaking the scene as a fight and in the process causing injury on one person he thought was an aggressor.

The law of defense of others would not be applicable, and the defendant could be charged with causing bodily harm to another person. In this case, the victim was in no danger and the force used may not have been necessary. The rule of alter ego is parallel to the doctrine of reasonableness.

Can Deadly Force be Used if Defense of Others?

Using deadly force to defend others is justifiable as long as the defendant reasonably believed that the force was necessary in that situation. If the circumstances were of a simple assault then using deadly force would not be justified. So, depending on the circumstances using deadly force may or may not be justifiable. In other cases using deadly force is acceptable.

For the law of defense of others, following conditions must be met though not without limitations

  • There should be some relationships between the defendant and the person he was defending,
  • The defendant was not the one who provoked the fight or started the attack,
  • The respondent’s knowledge will be used as the basis of the decision. For instance, if it later comes out that the aggressor was actually a serial killer, but the defendant was not aware at the time, then the new knowledge would not be used as a defense.
  • If the defendant were in the process of committing crime at the time of the incident, then the defense would not apply if force was used to aid another person to resist arrest

Defense of others may be a defense in your case. A skilled attorney will assist you in determining the best strategy and defenses to use in your case. Contact us today.

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