Execution of Public Duty


Fundamentals of Criminal Law

Adam J. McKee, Ph.D.

Jack Brown, Ph.D.


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The Execution of Public Duty rule protects public servants from being prosecuted when their official duties, sanctioned or commanded by law, would otherwise be offenses. The most common example of this is when a person executes another in the name of the state, pursuant to a lawful death warrant. There is no murder because the law commanded the death and the executioner acted with legal authority. This rule also protects persons acting at the direction of public servants who are compelled by law to perform acts that would otherwise be criminal. This section covers private persons who are acting at the direction of and in cooperation with law enforcement, such as informants who purchase narcotics under law enforcement supervision.  This latter scenario is sometimes referred to as the law enforcement justification.

Modification History

File Created:  07/13/2018

Last Modified:  07/13/2018

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This work is licensed under an Open Educational Resource-Quality Master Source (OER-QMS) License.

Open Education Resource--Quality Master Source License


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