imminent danger | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Criminal Law

An imminent danger is a potential harm that is likely to occur at any moment.

In various fields, such as law, public safety, and health, the term “imminent danger” is often used to refer to a situation where there is a high probability of immediate harm or danger. In the context of criminal law, an imminent danger is a potential harm that is likely to occur at any moment and that requires swift and decisive action to prevent it.

Imminent danger is a crucial concept in criminal law, particularly in cases where law enforcement officials are authorized to use force to prevent a crime or arrest a suspect. In such cases, the use of force must be necessary to prevent an imminent threat of harm, and it must be proportional to the perceived threat. The principle of proportionality requires that the degree of force used must not be excessive in relation to the danger posed by the suspect or the situation.

The concept of imminent danger is also relevant in cases where a person claims self-defense as a justification for their actions. Self-defense is a legal doctrine that allows a person to use reasonable force to protect themselves from imminent harm or danger. The person must have a reasonable belief that the danger is imminent and that the force used is necessary to prevent harm. The degree of force used in self-defense must also be proportional to the threat posed.

In addition to its role in criminal law, the concept of imminent danger is also relevant in public safety and emergency management. For example, emergency responders may use the concept of imminent danger to assess and respond to potential hazards such as fires, natural disasters, or hazardous material spills. In such cases, the objective is to identify and respond to the danger before it becomes an immediate threat to public safety.

Overall, the concept is an essential element in criminal law and public safety. It serves as a critical tool for assessing potential harm and determining the appropriate response. By considering the principle of proportionality, authorities can ensure that the force used to prevent harm or danger is reasonable and necessary while protecting the rights and safety of all individuals involved.

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Last Modified: 04/09/2023

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