Military court-martial lawyers
The defense of accident is defined by R.C.M. 916(f).
Traditional View Adopted by Military. R.C.M. 916(e)(5). One who acts in defense of another has no greater right than the party defended. United States v. Regalado, 33 C.M.R. 12 (C.M.A. 1963); United States v. Hernandez, 19 C.M.R. 822 (A.F.B.R. 1955); United States v. Cole, 54 M.J. 572 (A. Ct. Crim. App. 2000) (where the victim did not attack or make an offer of violence to the accused’s wife, he was not entitled to use deadly force in defense of his family), aff’d, 55 M.J. 466 (C.A.A.F. 2001).
“Enlightened View” Rejected. Accused who honestly and reasonably believes he is justified in defending another does not escape criminal liability if the “defended party” is not entitled to the defense of self-defense. United States v. Lanier, 50 M.J. 772 (A. Ct. Crim. App. 1999), aff’d 53 M.J. 220 (C.A.A.F. 2000) (accused may not use more force than the person defended was lawfully entitled to use under the circumstances. This “alter ego” status imposes significant limitations on the availability and application of the defense of defense of another); United States v. Tanksley, 7 M.J. 573 (A.C.M.R. 1979), aff’d, 10 M.J. 180 (C.M.A. 1980); United States v. Styron, 21 C.M.R. 579 (C.G.B.R. 1956). But see LaFave & Scott, Criminal Law § 54 at 397-399 (1972). See generally Byler, Defense of Another, Guilt Without Fault?, ARMY LAW., June 1980.
Accident & Defense of Another
United States v. Jenkins, 59 M.J. 893 (A. Ct. Crim. App. 2004). Appellant and friends traveled to another unit’s barracks area to solve a dispute with another group. Appellant carried with him a loaded handgun, which he gave to a friend to hold. A fight erupted between two members of the factions. A member of the opposing faction had beaten appellant’s colleague unconscious and continued to beat him. Appellant retrieved his pistol and fired three shots; the third shot struck another soldier and caused the loss of his kidney. At trial, defense counsel requested instructions on accident, defense of another, and withdrawal as reviving the right to self-defense.
The Military Judge (Military Judge) instructed the panel only on defense of another, and the panel convicted appellant of conspiracy to assault and intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm. The appellate court held that the Military Judge erred in refusing to give the requested instructions. When appellant’s friend became unconscious during the fight, he effectively withdrew from the mutual affray, giving appellant the right to defend him. Further, there was evidence in the record that appellant showed due care in firing his pistol to prevent further injury.
Legal Defense Of Defense Of Another
Under early common law, the defense of others occurs when an accused uses force to defend himself or someone with a special relationship, such as a family connection. The model penal code permits such a defense in circumstances where the actor reasonably believes that the person he is trying to protect would justify using such protective force. Thus, according to the sample code, the defendant’s subjective belief that the other person would use force in self-defense or defense of the other is appropriate.
Suppose the defendant uses defense force on the other person under threat of death or serious harm and has a reasonable perception of such damage. In that case, it can be said that he has a perfect justification for self-defense.
Legal Defenses Available in a Military Court-Martial
- Special Defenses & Other Defenses
- Accident Defense
- Defective causation & Intervening cause
- Duress or Coercion
- Inability and Impossibility
- Defense of another
- Necessity or Justification
- Mistaken belief, mistake of fact, or Ignorance
- Voluntary abandonment
- Statute of Limitations
- Former jeopardy – Double Jeopardy
- Miscellaneous Defenses
A person has a legal right to defend himself with reasonable force if the victim is the victim of an attack. When the police use excessive force to make an arrest, which happens all the time, the person is allowed to use “reasonable force” to defend himself at the point of arrest. In self-defense, an accused may use force only to defend his real or personal property or apartment.
In some jurisdictions, an individual may use reasonable force, but never lethal force, to defend his property but has no legal right to his property. Similar to self-defense, the defense of others, and the defense of property, defense is invoked when an accused uses force or force to protect property such as land or property from damage or destruction. According to this rule, it is justified to use force when a person uses force to defend himself because he is in self-defense.
If you use excessive or disproportionate force, you lose the right to defend yourself or use a third-party defense. Defending yourself against a third party without using too much force means that a prudent person would apply the same or similar conditions. The defense of property has an additional restriction on violence, which can protect property and must never be lethal.
Virginia law does not require a person to withdraw or use force, even lethal force if other defense elements are met when confronted with an aggressor. However, when a person is at the aggressor’s fault, he must abide by the rules of excusable self-defense and check whether the use of self-defense is lawful.
When a person that behaves unlawfully is privileged in the act of self-defense, he is not privileged to use force intended to cause or likely to cause the death of his attacker because the person reasonably believes that he has exhausted all other reasonable options of escape and must avoid death or grievous bodily harm at the hands of his attacker.
Self-defense is permitted when you believe that it is necessary to use force to protect yourself from another person’s imminent threat of death, injury, or attack. For example, a person may invoke this or any other defense when he or she uses force to stop an attack on another driver on a bus.
While many states restrict the defense of another person to the life of a family member, Virginia law gives the right to protect people with whom you have no direct relationship. In Virginia, under certain circumstances, you may not only defend yourself but also against others. However, they must not use lethal force to protect another person from a past or future threat.
The defense of a third person, also called the defense of others, gives you the right to use reasonable force to protect a third person in a situation where another person directly threatens the third person. The right to self-defense (also referred to as the “right to self-defense” when applied to the defense of an alter ego, “self-defense” or “defense of others” or “defense in a third person”) is the right of people to use “reasonable defense force” to protect themselves or the lives of others (including, in certain circumstances, the use of lethal force). For example, a defendant claiming complete self-defense and charged with first-degree murder meets the objective threshold by showing that he reasonably believed he could prevent or end unlawful interference with his person and that force was used when necessary to prevent imminent death or grievous bodily harm.
The defendant, in addition, used as much force as any reasonable person would use to put an end to the threat. The violence used by the accused must be proportionate, proportionate, and equal or lower than the forces used against the victim.
For example, self-defense against a middle-aged man who attacked him in a pub brawl with a broken bottle would be treated differently than self-defense against a toddler who climbed on top of him in a daycare center.
If a person believes that he or she is in imminent danger of being raped, he or she can justify self-defense against his or her attacker and, in many cases, the use of lethal force to ward off the attack. However, whether a reasonable person would believe that the level of violence used is necessary and not excessive will depend on the accused’s position at the time of his act.