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Criminal Law Spring 2017

IV.A.ii. Necessity

Necessity may also justify action that would otherwise be criminal. The category is significantly narrower than self-defense, and claims of necessity are rarely successful. Necessity requires imminent and grave harm that results through no fault of the defendant. The defendant must take forceful action only when the benefits clearly outweigh the harms. As you will see, the cases in this section often deal with significantly more extreme fact patterns than the self-defense cases. Why is the necessity justification narrowly construed?