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Necessity Defense

A defendant may have a defense of necessity if he or she reasonably believed that his or her criminal actions were necessary to avoid a greater harm than that which would have otherwise been caused had the defendant not committed the offense. 

For example, if the defendant broke into a pharmacy at night to gain access to medicine which was immediately needed to save another person's life then the defendant may claim the defense of necessity to a charge of burglary.

As stated, the defendant must reasonably believe that he or she needed to commit the offense to avoid a greater harm. This is an objective standard which means that the average person would have believed the same as the defendant in the same circumstance.

Also, the harm which was avoided when the defendant committed the offense must have reasonably been a greater harm than the offense that was committed. Using the example above, the defendant would not be able to claim the defense of necessity if he or she burglarized the pharmacy to obtain cold medicine.

Furthermore, the harm avoided must have been an imminent or immediate harm. Using the example above, the defendant would not be able to claim the defense of necessity if he or she burglarized the pharmacy to medicine unless the death was imminent or immediate.

Finally, before the defendant may rely on the defense of necessity, he or she must not have been the person who created the harm which was to be avoided in the first place. Using the example above, the defendant could not claim the defense of necessity where the defendant burglarized the pharmacy for life saving medicine after he was wounded by police while escaping prison.

For more information on the defense of necessity contact Criminal Defense Attorney Christopher Dorado today. 909.913.3138

Criminal Defense Attorneys


Defense of Necessity

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Common Defenses to Criminal Charges

  • Insanity
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  • Entrapment
  • Due Process Violations
  • Statute of Limitations
  • Double Jeopardy
  • Search & Seizure Violations
  • Mistake of Fact
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  • Alibi
  • Claim of Right
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  • Technical Defenses
  • Consent
  • Lack of Jurisdiction
  • Coerced Confessions
  • Jury Nullification
  • Necessity
  • Self Defense
  • Defense of Other People
  • Duress

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Criminal Defense Attorney

Necessity Defense / Defense to Crimes


Law Office of Christopher Dorado 1030 Nevada Street. Suite 105 Redlands, CA. 92374