“Help! Rape!” Using Deadly Force to Defend a Third Party – Virginia

Sexual assault stories have dominated the news recently, and we have received many questions about defending others against sexual assault and rape. We reached out to Independent Program Attorney Ed Riley to get the answers to your legal questions on defending a third party against rape and sexual assault.

Ed Riley: Hi, Ed Riley, U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney for Virginia. When can you defend a loved one. The Virginia Defense of Others Law answers that question.

In Virginia, the defense of others is an affirmative offense just like self-defense. What that means is you can defend a loved one or a stranger if they come under attack. Now, the amount of force used must be reasonable and must not be excessive considering the situation. And the amount of force used can include deadly force depending on the circumstance. Deadly force is justified when you believe the other person is not at fault, and they are in imminent danger of significant harm of death and it is reasonable under the circumstances.

However, if you believe the person in danger was at fault but that they have retreated sufficiently enough and are still in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death then deadly force is still lawful to be used.

The policy of this law is to come to the aid of others who are under attack, whether they are a loved one or stranger.

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