I was recently asked about this subject for whatever reason. I haven’t heard much of this topic with other people nor have I heard of any stories in the news about justifiable homicide. But here is what I could find out about it what it is and how it is defined.
A non-criminal homicide, usually committed in self-defense or in defense of another, may be called in some cases in the United States. A homicide may be considered justified if it is done to prevent a very serious crime, such as rape, armed robbery, manslaughter or murder.
The assailant’s intent to commit a serious crime must be clear at the time. A homicide performed out of vengeance, or retribution for action in the past, would largely not be considered justifiable.
In many states, given a case of self-defense, the defendant is expected to obey a duty to retreat if it is possible to do so. In the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Washington, Wyoming and other Castle Doctrine states, there is no duty to retreat in certain situations (depending on the state, this may apply to one’s home, business, or vehicle, or to any public place where a person is lawfully present). Preemptive self-defense, cases in which one kills another on suspicion that the victim might eventually become dangerous, is considered criminal, no matter how likely it is that one was right.
Justifiable homicide is a legal gray area, and there is no clear legal standard for a homicide to be considered justifiable. The circumstances under which homicide is justified are usually considered to be that the defendant had no alternative method of self-defense or defense of another than to kill the attacker.
For the person requesting such information:
The Texas Penal Code in Section 9, Justification Excluding Criminal Responsibility, addresses the use of force to protect a third person.
That part of the code states, in part, that “a person is justified in using deadly force against another to prevent the imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery or aggravated robbery.” Basically, it allows a third person to use deadly force when aiding someone else, such as a small child or an elderly person who does not have the physical strength to either get away from their attacker or stand and fight on their own. There was a case not too long ago where a man was killed by a third person during a sexual assault of a child. No charges were brought to the person who killed that child’s attacker.
But in review and in smaller terms, many states don’t just allow anyone to cause death to anyone and then claim self-defense. It just doesn’t work that way. There is a duty to retreat which means if you can get away from an attacker, then you must attempt to do so before taking the law into your own hands and ending the life of that attacker.
However, you do not have the duty to retreat in certain circumstances if you are where you belong. Such as your home, private property, etc.