justification

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

A justification (in criminal law) refers to a legal defense used to excuse or justify an otherwise criminal act.


A justification defense argues that the defendant’s actions were legally permissible because they were necessary to protect an important interest, such as self-defense or defense of others, defense of property, or prevention of greater harm.

Under this defense, the defendant admits to committing the act in question but argues that their actions were justified because they were necessary to prevent harm or protect an interest that is legally recognized. The burden of proof is typically on the defendant to establish that their actions were justified by presenting evidence and testimony to support their claim.

The availability of justification defenses may vary depending on the jurisdiction and case circumstances. For example, in cases of self-defense or defense of others, the defendant may be required to demonstrate that they reasonably believed they were in imminent danger of harm, that they used only the amount of force necessary to prevent the harm, and that they had no reasonable means of escape.

Justification defenses are not always successful, as the defendant must demonstrate that their actions were legally justified under the case’s specific circumstances. However, if the defendant successfully establishes a justification defense, they may be acquitted of the charges or have their charges reduced to a lesser offense.


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Last Modified: 03/09/2023

 

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