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When is the use of force justified?

You may think that so many people in Mineola cite self-defense in response to criminal accusations that such an assertion has lost all validity (and thus no one will believe you when you rightfully claim it). However, the law does indeed recognize that there are situations where conduct that would otherwise be deemed to be assault is justified. Section 35.05 of the New York Penal Code describes such situations as when you need to act to avoid an imminent injury that may come through no fault of your own that is serious enough that, "according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding such injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense in issue."

While that seems straightforward, you may wonder exactly what situations the law defines as warranting such action. These are stated to include: 

  • Defending yourself
  • Defending a third person
  • Defending your home 
  • Preventing the theft of your property 
  • Preventing criminal mischief to your property 

However, your ability to claim self-defense is not valid if you were the initial aggressor in a confrontation, or your conduct intentionally provoked your attacker into an altercation. 

The law also recognizes uses of justifiable force that do not necessarily involve self-defense. These include when you, as a parent, guardian or teacher, use it on one under the age of 21 in your care to promote said person's welfare and maintain order. Order may also be obtained through force if you work transporting passengers and believe it to be necessary. If you are a doctor, you may use it when providing necessary treatments to patients or restraining patients under the age of 18 (with parental consent). You can also use it to prevent one from committing suicide. 

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