Warning for disgusting content 37s long surveillance video of Man walking up to someone and emptying a cup of contents from toilet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjDfJlsyXj4

Are you allowed to use lethal force to prevent this most disgusting act? Any jurisdiction you wish to answer from. Especially for someone without access to non-deadly force.

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    You have a different question in the title (is throwing a cup of sewage considered lethal force?) and the body (is it legal to use lethal force to prevent a cup of sewage being thrown at you?).
    – JBentley
    Feb 18 at 10:34

2 Answers 2


There are many questions on this site asking about the acceptability of a particular act or deadly force taken in self-defence:

The answer is always the same. It depends on whether the response is reasonable or proportional (precise expression varies depending on the jurisdiction).

In Canada, for an act to be permitted as self-defence it must, among other things, be "reasonable in the circumstances" (Criminal Code, s. 34(1)(c)).

In determining whether the defensive act is "reasonable in the circumstances," the court must consider all the circumstances, including, but not limited to "the nature and proportionality of the person's response to the use or threat of force" (s. 34(2)(c), (g)).

This is a case-by-case assessment left to the trier of fact (a jury, where there is one, or a judge, when sitting alone). I can find no example in Canadian law where the circumstance you describe was responded to with intentionally lethal force. I predict that, without more, no trier of fact would find intentionally lethal force to be reasonable in the circumstances, largely because of the lack of proportionality such response.

I also note that "a person defending [themself] against an attack, reasonably apprehended, cannot be expected to weigh to a nicety, the exact measure of necessary defenceive action." Actions taken reasonably, without the intention of killing someone, may still end up killing someone, and nonetheless be permitted due to self-defence.


No. Self defense in germany requires to use the least forceful means under the proportionality and necessity principles. As such, lethal force is only allowed if life and limb are on the line. A cup of feces is not that, shooting the attacker is out of the question.

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    It's worth bearing in mind though that this assumes the defender knows what is in the cup in advance. Given the (relatively higher) prevalence of acid throwing attacks, and the fact that self defence is usually a split-second decision, it may well be reasonable to use a higher degree of force when faced with someone about to throw a cup of unidentified liquid at you.
    – JBentley
    Feb 18 at 10:38
  • @JBentley acid throwing wouldn't allow deadly force either - it's maiming, so the most you may use is maiming. You might not get punished for exceeding the objective limit, but it's technically not allowed.
    – Trish
    Feb 18 at 10:42
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    Well, I can't speak to German law, but acid throwing certainly can and does result in both serious bodily harm and death, and "lethal force" means anything which results in either of those. Does German law permit a level of force in response to something which carries a risk of the same level of force (e.g. killing someone in defence of something which might kill you)?
    – JBentley
    Feb 18 at 10:47
  • It's in the definition: (2) Notwehr ist die Verteidigung, die erforderlich ist, um einen gegenwärtigen rechtswidrigen Angriff von sich oder einem anderen abzuwenden. (2) Self Defense is the defense, that is required, to prevent/stop/end a current [and] illegal attack against yourself or someone else. -- Erforderlich is anything under the Gebotenheits-principle, which precludes using more deadly means than the assualter.
    – Trish
    Feb 18 at 10:51
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    @JBentley Yes it does. Trish is wrong. You can absolutely use a more lethal force than your attacker, if it is the means most likely to succeed in stopping the attack. You can for example shoot someone who is about to attack you, even if all you see are their fists. Although you have to exhaust all other options if possible, if someone is coming at you it might not be possible and you are legally allowed to use force more deadly than your attacker.
    – nvoigt
    Feb 18 at 18:04

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