Necessary Defense

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Necessary Defense


in criminal law, a circumstance that negates the social danger and criminality of an act that under other conditions would be criminal. The condition of necessary defense is grounds for relief from criminal responsibility. In the USSR, the law permits necessary defense in protecting state and public interests or in protecting the person or rights of the defender or of another person against a socially dangerous offense.

Necessary defense essentially consists in stopping criminal offenses, but it is also possible when protecting against persons in a state of nonimputability, minors, or other persons not subject to criminal responsibility. Necessary defense involves causing harm to the attacker in order to stop the attack. In order that a person’s actions be deemed necessary defense, such factors must be taken into account as the extent of the harm prevented and caused, the degree and nature of the danger threatening the defender, and the defender’s chances for repulsing the attack (the number, age, and physical condition, of attackers and defenders, the presence of weapons, time and place). If, because of mental agitation caused by the suddenness of the attack, the defender was unable to determine precisely the nature of the danger and to select commensurate means of defense, he will not ordinarily be held responsible for causing consequences judged more severe than necessary.

If there is clearly a disparity between the defense and the nature and danger of the offense, the defense shall be considered to have exceeded the limits of necessary defense; however, in determining punishment, necessary defense is a mitigating circumstance.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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