Is the Necessity Defense Viable?

Justifiable homicide is an issue that has caused controversy amongst courts of all kinds. For instance, suppose a general passenger knew that a passenger planned on hijacking the plane that crashed into the WTC during the Sept. 11 attacks, and suppose the general passenger killed the “combatant” and prevented the much greater evil from occurring.  The question always raised is “was the killing necessary to prevent greater harm being done” i.e. killing the one terrorists which would’ve saved thousands. This is a question of if the terrorist being killed was necessary. The answer to the question should always be yes. The necessity defense is viable because actions taken out to prevent yourself or someone away from greater evil should be justified through the eyes of the law.

When a homicide occurs in wake of a threat, there are stipulations to be met if the action was done so justly. For instance, was the harm caused by the defendant greater than the harm caused to avoid the harm of the prior? If one harm causes a greater harm from happening, why would that action be seen as illegal? The lesser evil a society has, the better the society is. The question then becomes how do you weight harm? Weighing harm is completely arbitrary but should be weighed by the amount of wrong done to the victim. To compare, the amount of harm avoided should be considered and the total should be calculated as a net. Another stipulation of if a homicide should be justified is if there was no reasonable alternative the defendant could have turned to. If there is no other option between death and life by a homicide, the defendant should choose life by homicide every time. A person has a right to life, and if there is a way to pursue life then they should take that option. That person is given something they’ll never get back and if someone threatens their “pursuit of happiness/utility” than anyone has every right to eliminate the threat to continue their life. Once the defendant has eliminated the threat to their life, they should cease their action against said threat. Any action passed the elimination of the threat is excessive and has become vengeful which in turn could be a threat to someone else. If the air in which the threat persists is caused by the defendant then the defendant should be allowed to eliminate the threat as it at fault of their own. If the defendant did not create the air in which they are threatened, then the defendant should be able to protect themselves from harm.


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3.      The Necessity Defense. (n.d.). The Necessity Defense. Retrieved , from