Learn about necessity, a justification for criminal liability that applies if a person commits a criminal act to avoid some greater harm.


This clip will focus on the doctrine of necessity, which is generally considered to be a justification, although it contains elements of excuse as well.

Necessity is sometimes referred to as the choice of lesser evils, because it involves choosing conduct that is technically unlawful in order to avoid some greater harm. This is what makes it a justification: conduct that avoids a greater harm is desirable from a societal perspective.

I. Common Law

The required elements of a necessity defense...