Necessity

The defence of necessity is used when the Accused accepts they committed the act constituting the offence, but argues that it was necessary to avoid irreparable harm or to protect another person.

In raising this defence, the onus is on Accused to call evidence to prove that they were acting out of necessity. This defence is very technical and can be difficult to establish at law.

The jury must look at the facts surrounding the offence, and the proportionality of the offending – i.e. they must compare the degree to which the law was broken with the ‘harm’ that needed to be avoided.

An example of the defence of necessity would be a traffic offence (e.g. speeding or careless driving) committed in the context of a medical emergency.