If I see a "No Tresapssing" sign on a house door, but I hear screems for help from inside. The window was left open by mistake and I see a big guy beating an unarmed man and getting ready to kill him.

Would I be justified in front of the law to break in and shoot for the big guy's gun? (I am also putting the big guy's life in danger by shootin but he comes out unharmed).

  • Question: Assuming that my claims about the imminent murder having been about to take place prove to be correct, will the law, as it stands written, find me guilty of any of the 2 crimes that I have just comitted?

The question is not about the morality or practicality of my actions. It is purely legal.

  • What is the analogy with the cases against Assange? – George White Jun 12 '19 at 1:58
  • @GeorgeWhite - He did a "break in" or tried to (not sure) because he got a hint from Manning that there are some crimes going on and tried to stop those crimes by exposing them (if I got it right). At least that's how some media outlets are portraying the case. – Alex Doe Jun 12 '19 at 2:03
  • If the Assange case is your real question I would edit it to that or make it a separate question. The law can be very specific and getting legal answers to Q1 and Q2 are two entirely different things. – George White Jun 12 '19 at 2:14

There is a general defence to any crime called self defense. If you commit a crime, but the reason you commit it is because you are acting in self defense, or the defense of another, then you will not be found guilty of that crime.

For example, if you kill someone, but the court believes you are acting in self defense, then you will not be found guilty of murder (or manslaughter).

This defense extends to other crimes too, and trespassing would be included in this.

Acting in the defense of another person has the same effect as acting in self defense.

Just note that you would have to prove that it was reasonable for you to be acting in the way you did. Usually this means that the crime you committed was proportional or necessary to prevent the crime that would have occurred, and if self defense is involved, that it was necessary to do what you had to do to prevent harm to you or another.

  • 2
    Citation needed. – User37849012643 Jun 12 '19 at 4:24
  • 2
    It should be said that this isn't the case in every state in the United States (jurisdiction which was provided). Some states like Florida have Laws called "stand your ground"; Some states like Vermont and Washington, D.C. have "Duty to retreat" which "require citizens to flee from criminal assailants, even within their own homes". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand-your-ground_law – User37849012643 Jun 12 '19 at 4:24
  • @StephanS I bet it is the case in every state in the union. Scotland has a "duty to retreat" too, but it still has a defence of "Self defence". The "duty to retreat"/"stand your ground" laws just alter what counts as "reasonable to be acting in the way you did". – Martin Bonner supports Monica Jun 12 '19 at 8:39
  • Please provide link(s) to actual law(s) or case laws that you can base your answer on – Alex Doe Jun 14 '19 at 17:22

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