You are probably aware of the laws regarding self-defense, which means that you can use reasonable force to protect yourself in times of need. Let’s say that somebody has threatened to stab you and is swinging a knife around at you wildly. To protect yourself, maybe you threw a punch and then ran away to get help. This would be seen as self-defense if you feel like your life was in danger. But what if somebody else is being harmed? What can you reasonably do to protect others from harm?
Defense of Others: Much Like Self-Defense
Defense of others is actually a lot like self-defense, which can be used as a complete defense to criminal charges in the right scenario. If you have to use defense of others, this means that you will be using a certain degree of force to prevent a crime from happening. However, this means that you must meet certain criteria: You must believe that another person is in imminent danger of death or harm, that your belief is reasonable, and that you will only use as much force as reasonable to stop the threat of harm. Let’s say, for instance, that somebody is in an alleyway and another person is telling them that they’re going to punch them. It’s clear that there are no weapons being used. If you come into the fight with a gun and shoot the person making threats, this is not being reasonable, and a defense of others will not work.
Subjective and Objective
The standard of reasonable force combines both subjective and objective tests. For instance, with the objective test, the jury will look at everything the defendant knew at the time of the event to see if their response was reasonable under the circumstances. For the subjective test, it depends on if the defendant actually believed that someone was in imminent danger.
There are some scenarios where you are not allowed to claim the defense of others whatsoever. The defense won’t apply, for instance, if the defendant was committing a crime at the time that force was used. It also can’t be used if a person is helping another person resist arrest. If you believe that you acted in self-defense of another person and it may have saved them from harm, you should give us a call today. We can help you with every step of your case and help you understand what is permitted and what isn’t under law.