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Justification: Law Enforcement

Arrest And Attendant Uses Of Force, Use Of Force In Connection With Arrest Or Detention, Use Of Deadly Force In Connection With An Arrest

The law recognizes a privilege for an actor to employ force to prevent crime, to effect a lawful arrest, to prevent an escape from custody, under circumstances where, without the justification of such a privilege, the actor might be charged with assault or even homicide. This category of justifications, like others, arises in cases where the law accepts that a harm is done, or may be done, by the conduct of the actor, but finds that the harm is outweighed by the need to further a greater societal interest. The availability of the justification defenses arising out of law enforcement revolves around the questions whether the actor's use of force is "necessary to protect or further the interest at stake," and whether it causes "only a harm that is proportional, or reasonable in relation to the harm threatened or the interest to be furthered" (Robinson, p. 217). These considerations are basic in analyzing justifications for actions taken in pursuance of law enforcement. The justifications for actions by law enforcement personnel discussed below are applicable to police officers, peace officers, and on occasion to military personnel when maintaining order; the scope of the coverage may vary from place to place by statute.


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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law