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The Sanders Firm, P.C.: Justification Defense

In New York City, The Sanders Firm, P.C. provides legal services to those facing criminal charges, which includes the utilization of certain defenses such as justification. In criminal law someone who is involved in an action that might normally be considered a crime may be acquitted of that crime through the application of the justification defense.

Criminal Law and Justification Defense

Justification is an excuse. A defendant may prove their innocence through this legal defense. Perhaps the most common example of justification involves self-defense. If someone physically attacks you, then your actions in defending yourself, within certain limits, would be justified.

In New York, there are two general instances involving violence when justification is allowed as a defense. These are when:

  • 1. Such conduct is required or authorized by law or by a judicial decree, or is performed by a public servant in the reasonable exercise of his official powers, duties or functions; or
  • 2. Such conduct is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury which is about to occur by reason of a situation occasioned or developed through no fault of the actor, and which is of such gravity that, according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding such injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense in issue.

The necessity and justifiability of such conduct may not rest upon considerations pertaining only to the morality and advisability of the statute, either in its general application or with respect to its application to a particular class of cases arising thereunder. Whenever evidence relating to the defense of justification under this subdivision is offered by the defendant, the court shall rule as a matter of law whether the claimed facts and circumstances would, if established, constitute a defense.

These instances include someone defending their home or person against another person, a person restraining someone in a professional manner, which includes law enforcement, prison officials, and medical professionals, and parents disciplining children. Often such actions are justified when a person in authority must use force to enforce orderly conduct or when a person is in some way attacked by another.

Using Justification as a Defense

In order to use justification as a defense, the actions in defending yourself or in attempting to maintain or regain order must be within certain limits. Excessive force, actions that result in death or actions that are otherwise unwarranted are not permissible. Thus, justification may not be blindly used in a defense argument. In addition, it must be verifiable and make sense in relationship to the rest of the evidence.

Understanding the Situation

At The Sanders Firm, P.C., we know that the use of justification entails careful, diligent work that ensures every aspect of your defense is in order. There are numerous pitfalls in utilizing justification, including any interpretation by the jury of the defendant’s actions as being more than necessary, the defendant’s actions being designed to escalate the problem rather than ameliorating it, and the defendant’s actions being unwarranted.

We Are Here to Work with You

If you have been charged with a criminal act, contact The Sanders Firm, P.C. We will review your case, consider the justification defense if it is appropriate, and work to determine your best course of action. The Sanders Firms, P.C. is your voice for justice in criminal court.