Defense of others you don’t see a lot in criminal defense. I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years. Very rarely see it used as a defense. Once in a while where it comes into play is where somebody does something to another individual or individuals in defense of another person.
For example, of somebody were beating somebody up and another person came in and knocked that person down, hit them and subdued them because they were beating another person up, and the person that got subdued tried to have a police file a battery charge against the individual that was helping the other person, then that individual could claim that they were defending another person.
Acting Reasonably Under The Circumstances
The test for defense of another is reasonableness. In other words, was the person who purportedly was acting in defense of another acting reasonably under the circumstances. So, in our scenario where someone is being beat up and then a good Samaritan comes along and uses some physical violence against the person who’s beating that person up — if they hit them or pushed them or knocked them off the victim that certainly would be reasonable under the circumstances.
But, if they came with a gun and shot them that would probably be unreasonable. That would be using too much force under the circumstances. You can only use that force which is necessary to stop the person from being beaten up in our scenario.
Most things in criminal defense are reasonableness. If you look at something and it makes common sense to you and it seems reasonable to you, then you would probably have the defense of the defense of another related to a criminal case. Of course, you have to have all the underlying circumstances before you can make that decision whether you’re gong to try to effectively assert a defense of defense of others.
For example, let’s say you were there and two parties became engaged in an argument in that same scenario and the party that you tried to defend later was the one who actually precipitated the fight and attached the other party.
Then they started to lose the fight because the other party defended themselves more skillfully and then you all of a sudden jump into the fray and start beating up the other party, you’re probably going to have a problem with that scenario. You can’t do that.
If you see somebody being viciously beaten, you could certainly stop the person from beating them, but again, you really have to look at the totality of the circumstances in assessing and deciding whether defense of another is going to be reasonable under those circumstances that-a reasonable objective person was presented with.
Review of the Entire Scenario
So, when I talk about any type of defense in criminal law, specifically defense of another, I’m going to be looking at the whole scenario. What happened? If there’s violence involved, which it usually is, who started the violence? Who was the aggressor? Why was the violence necessary under the circumstances and why did it occur?
How is the person that comes in to assert the defense of defense another involved? Why are they involved? Why do they feel the need to act? There’s a whole slew of things that you have to really ask yourself or consider.
That’s why when I have people come into my office and we talk about defenses in criminal law, we talk about the whole scenario. We don’t just pick out some little tiny thing and blow that up. We have to look at the whole picture because that’s what the prosecutors are going to do, that’s what the police are going to do, that’s what a jury will do, that’s what a judge is going to do.
So, if you’ve got a case where you think defense is another is a viable defense, let’s sit down and talk about it. Let’s flush everything out and then we can start making some informed decisions about what the best moves are pushing forward related to the defense of your criminal case. Contact the Hedding Law Firm to review the details of your case.
Categorised in: Criminal Defense