Can you use force to defend someone else?

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

If you get involved in a physical altercation with someone else, you know that one way that you can justify your actions is to claim that you acted in self-defense. You still may get arrested by officers who arrive at the scene, as they do not know what happened prior to their arrival, but you can say that you were trying to prevent harm to yourself and that the other person was the aggressor. If this is true, you have not broken the law.

But what if you wanted to defend another person? Do you have the same right to use force against the aggressor, even though you were not initially involved in the confrontation? Say you see a fight breaking out in front of a bar and it is clear that someone is in danger. You’re just walking by, but can you step in and stop that fight with force if necessary?

Self-defense applies to the defense of anyone

As you may have guessed, self-defense does apply in a scenario where you’re trying to protect another person. As long as you are not the aggressor in the situation, you are allowed to defend the other person’s right to safety and health, not just your own.

This can get a bit complicated, however. You need to make sure that you are actually acting in defense of that person, and you still need to use an appropriate amount of force for the situation. Just as it’s hard for the police to know what happened before they arrived, you could be confused about what happened before you arrived. If you are going to act in defense of another person, just be sure that they need it and that you’re doing so appropriately.

As noted, you could certainly still get arrested even when you didn’t do anything wrong. At a time like this, you need to know how to illustrate your side of the story and what legal defense options you have.