What is Defense of Others in New Jersey?
Defense of others in New Jersey is a legal justification of a defendant's use of force in circumstances where they acted in defense of another person who they reasonably believed to be at risk of immediate harm.
Like self-defense and defense of property, defense of others in New Jersey is used to defend allegations of violence. The defendant does not dispute that they did the violent act, but they argue their actions were legally justified.
The specific elements and application of the law of defense of others vary between states. Generally, a defendant may be able to argue defense of another where:
- They held a reasonable belief that the use of force was necessary to protect someone from an immediate threat of harm
- They used reasonable force, that wasn't excessive in the circumstances
In some states, defense of others will only be available where a special relationship exists between the defendant and the person they're protecting, for example, husband and wife or parent and child.
Some states allow a defendant to use lethal force to defend another person if they reasonably believed it was necessary in the circumstances.
Facing criminal charges can be extremely scary. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Alex Cirocco can help you understand what you are facing and how to defend yourself. Call us today at 973-327-9995 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Burden of Proof for Defense of Others Claim in New Jersey
Like self-defense, defense of others in New Jersey is an affirmative defense. It requires the defendant to admit to the alleged act. The specific operation of defense of others and the related burden of proof vary between states.
In many states, the burden of proof for an affirmative defense is on the defendant. In these cases, the defendant must present evidence to prove, usually on a preponderance of the evidence (i.e. it is more likely true than not), that they acted in defense of another.
In other states, once the defendant has raised an affirmative defense, such as defense of others, the onus shifts back to the prosecution to disprove the defense.
Examples of New Jersey Defense of Others
John is at a house party, talking to Liam and Tim. During a heated conversation, Tim raises his fist to punch Liam. John sees this and pushes Tim over before he can hit Liam. If John is later charged with assaulting Tim, he could argue defense of another on the basis he reasonably believed Liam was at risk of imminent harm and he used reasonable force to stop Tim from hitting him.
In contrast, if rather than pushing Tim over, John stabs him with a knife, it would be unlikely John could successfully argue defense of another. In this scenario, the force he used wasn't reasonable, it was clearly excessive.
Why Hiring a Defense Attorney in New Jersey Is Imperative
You can see that using a defense of others can be complicated and very technical. At the Law Offices of Alex Cirocco we know when this defense can or cannot be used. Call us today at 973-327-9995 to find out of this method of defense would work in your criminal case.