This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: the necessity defense almost exclusively to situations in which the actor faced imminent death or bodily harm to himself or a third person. But modern cases have considered the doctrine in a wide range of dangers to life, limb, property, and other interests of the actor or of third parties. In the annals of jurisprudence, there has been a wide range of applications, including the following: The starving survivors of a shipwreck kill an innocent member of their group, resort to cannibalism, and claim necessity in defense to charges of murder. Shipwrecked seamen kill innocent victims by throwing them overboard to lighten a disabled lifeboat and claim necessity in defense to charges of manslaughter on the high seas. A lost and starving hiker breaks into a private cabin, takes available food, and claims necessity as a defense to a charge of trespass. A kills B reasonably believing it to be necessary to save C and D. A prisoner escapes from prison, asserting that conditions at the prison were inhumane and dangerous, and claims necessity as a defense to a charge of escape. Citizens destroy a private house and defend the action based on the public necessity of creating a fire break to prevent a fire from spreading over the whole town. A patient suffering nausea and painful side effects from a serious illness buys and smokes marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act and claims medical necessity. In fulfilling a promise to his wife, a husband hastens her death by turning off her respirator after a stroke renders her comatose. He claims moral necessity as a defense to a charge of manslaughter. A man kills his severely disabled daughter to stop the unbearable pain she suffered from cerebral palsy and seeks to defend charges of murder based on necessity. A doctor uses narcotics to alleviate a patient's pain, even though the dose is large enough to hasten the death of the patient, and argues that the value of stopping the pain is greater than the value of postponing death. Cargo is jettisoned overboard from a barge during a storm, and the c...
View Full Document
- Fall '13