Necessity is a complete defence to all criminal charges. Necessity is a complicated area of the law and difficult defence to raise. If you intend to rely on the defence of necessity, our criminal lawyers can advise you on the intricacies of the defence to give you the best chance of raising it successfully. 

What is necessity?

Necessity operates where circumstances (natural or human threats) bear upon you to such an extent that they induce you to break the law, as the consequences of not doing so would be even more dire.

What is the legal test for necessity?

You will be able to rely on the defence of necessity where:

  1. The criminal act performed by you was done in order to avoid certain consequences which would have inflicted irreparable evil upon you or upon others who you are bound to protect.
  2. You honestly believed on reasonable grounds that you were placed in a situation of imminent peril; and
  3. Your acts to avoid the imminent peril must not be out of proportion to the peril to be avoided.

Reasonable doubt

You bear the evidentiary onus of establishing a basis for a defence of necessity and, thereafter, the police bear the onus of negativing the defence beyond reasonable doubt.

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