At FindLaw.com, we pride ourselves on being the leading source of free legal information and resources on the Internet. Contact us. The FindLaw Legal Dictionary – free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries. Most States that have codified the necessity exception permit it only if the defendant`s choice of value has not been expressly challenged by the State legislature. For example, in 1993, the Massachusetts Supreme Court rejected the need to defend two individuals prosecuted for implementing a needle exchange program designed to reduce AIDS transmission by sharing contaminated needles (Massachusetts v. Leno, 415 Mass. 835, 616 N.E.2d 453). Their actions violated a state law prohibiting the distribution of needles without a doctor`s prescription. In rejecting the defence, the court found that the situation did not constitute a clear and imminent danger. The court argued that citizens who do not agree with the policies of the legislator are not without recourse, as they can try to change the law through popular initiative. This need has been successfully exploited by inmates who escape from prison under certain circumstances.
In Spakes v. State, 913 S.W.2d 597 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996), the Texas Supreme Court allowed the jury to be informed of the necessity of the defense before deliberating on the verdict of an inmate whose three cellmates had planned to escape and threatened to slit his throat if he did not accompany them. The accused inmate argued that because of the horrific violent crimes for which his cellmates were convicted (one of whom boasted of cutting up his girlfriend with an axe), he accompanied them and escaped. Although he did not attempt to detain himself when he was separated from his cellmates, the court allowed the defence. On the other hand, most courts have ruled that a refugee must attempt to surrender or present himself to the authorities as a condition for raising the exception of necessity. These courts have argued that once the immediate threat has disappeared, the escape action is no longer necessary and should therefore be stopped. An interesting topic that has developed over the past twenty-five years has been situations where prisoners have escaped from prison, claiming that escape is the only way to avoid greater harm such as sexual assault and beatings. Typically, these arguments were rejected when other non-penal options were available to prisoners. However, there have been cases where the court has allowed this defence to be argued at least before the jury, in which the defendant has proved that efforts to obtain the protection of prison authorities or the courts would have been impossible or futile.
However, the same courts have pointed out that, even if the necessity of the crime of escape may apply, the defendant can only successfully apply the defence if he can prove that once the imminent danger of harm has passed, he has surrendered to the competent authorities. See People v. Lovercamp, 43 Cal. App.3d 823 (1974). For example: Cases justified by necessity can be classified as follows: For the preservation of life; As if two people were to stand on the same board and one of them perished, the survivor has the right to have thrown the other who drowned as a result. The necessity as a defence to criminal acts committed to achieve political objectives was rejected in United States v. Schoon.  In this case, 30 people, including plaintiffs, gained access to the IRS office in Tucson, where they chanted “Keep U.S. taxpayer money out of El Salvador,” splattered simulated blood on counters, walls, and carpets, and obstructed the operation of the office in general.
The court held that the elements of necessity were not met in this case.  Only if all these conditions are met is the utility exception applicable. It`s also important to note that in some jurisdictions, the need is never a defense against the murder of another person, no matter how threatening that may be. There is another kind of necessity.