Charged with a Crime in Utah? 8 Justification Defenses

A justification defense refers to a principle in the law where, although a defendant committed a certain criminal act, he/she should not be punished because the circumstances justify the action. Generally speaking they are 8 common justification defenses that may absolve someone of criminal activity. These 8 defenses are summarized below:

  1. Self Defense – A person may defend themselves and may use deadly force under some circumstances . A person using force in self defense must use reasonable  force. Let’s say someone hits another person, it would not be reasonable, absent more the story, for the person hit to pull out a gun and start firing away. Self defense is a long standing justification defense in the law but not a catch all necessarily for every given situation. In Utah, a person may use force against another if they reasonably believe force is necessary to defend themselves against the unlawful use of force by another.
  2. Defense of Others – A person has the right to defend others if he/she reasonably believes the person being assisted has the legal right to us force in their own defense. For instance, if you happen to witness and assault, you would be justified in using force against the assailant to stop the assault.
  3. Defense of Property – A person may use reasonable force in defense of their home or property. If an intruder enters a person’s home, they may even use deadly force under some circumstances.
  4. Defense of Other’s Property – A person may even use force in defending another person’s home or property.
  5. Crime Prevention – If you witnesses a crime taking place, force may be used to prevent the crime. Deadly force may even be used to prevent a serious felony involving risk to human life.
  6. Effectuating Arrest – While most people understand force may be used by the police to effectuate an arrest, under some circumstances, private citizens may also be justified in using force to effectuate an arrest. In Utah, deadly force may not be used in effectuating an arrest.
  7. Resisting Arrest – Some states allow individuals to forcibly resist arrest if the arrest is improper.
  8. Necessity – It may be a defense to a crime if the person reasonably believed that commission of the crime was necessary to avoid an imminent and greater injury to society than that involved in the crime.

In Utah, there is also a general justification defense statutes which states as follows:

  • (1) Conduct which is justified is a defense to prosecution for any offense based on the conduct. The defense of justification may be claimed: (a) when the actor’s conduct is in defense of persons or property under the circumstances described in Sections 76-2-402 through 76-2-406 of this part; (b) when the actor’s conduct is reasonable and in fulfillment of his duties as a governmental officer or employee; (c) when the actor’s conduct is reasonable discipline of minors by parents, guardians, teachers, or other persons in loco parentis, as limited by Subsection (2); (d) when the actor’s conduct is reasonable discipline of persons in custody under the laws of the state; or (e) when the actor’s conduct is justified for any other reason under the laws of this state; (2) The defense of justification under Subsection (1)(c) is not available if the offense charged involves causing serious bodily injury, as defined in Section 76-1-601, serious physical injury, as defined in Section 76-5-109, or the death of the minor.

Salcido Law Firm – Aggressive Defense Lawyers

At Salcido Law Firm, we are aggressive defense lawyers who are always considering possible justification defenses in our client’s matters. We work hard and explore every possible defense in your case. To find out more information on any of the defenses listed above, call and speak with a member of our team today.

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