The Justified Use of Force and the Constant Battle in the American Society

Categories: The Use of Force

The idea of use of force has been a constant battle in society to what is considered justified or not. Over time the standards for justifiable use of force have been changed. The U.S Supreme Court has further defined the reasonableness standard for all states in Graham v. Connor. This 1989 landmark case mandated that the determination of objective reasonableness must be judged from the perspective of the officer on the scene, allowing for the fact that force situations often call for split-second decisions, and must be reviewed without regard to the officer's underlying intent or motivation (Johnson, 2007).

Jeffery Johnson state's that most citizens will not have training and experience in what is right use of force. This leads him to say, "Police managers need to periodically remind themselves of the unique dynamics involved in every use of force incident. Further, they must ensure that those civilians who have little or no experience in such matters, yet who are in positions to judge are educated so their concept of reasonableness will be fair and consistent (Johnson, 2007).

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This can effect the decisions on citizen on citizen use of force cases, an example would be any kind of street fight. Was it self-defense? If so then only one person should be charged in the incident, but what if the altercation was of mutual origins, how might one come to investigate a situation like this and form a decision?

David Maple, of the Journal of Political Philosophy says, "Justified self-defense requires that a victim inflict only necessary and proportionate harm.

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As the necessity requirement suggests, self-defense is concerned with protecting human life and limb, not with punishment (Maple, 2010)." What can be concluded is that justifiable assault or homicide is if there is a victim in the altercation.

Giving a different perspective, he goes on to state, "An attacker is morally liable to defensive harm when he is causally and morally responsible for wronging someone by posing a foreseeable, unavoidable, unjust and objectively unjustified threat of imminent harm (Maple, 2010)." The New York State Criminal Justice Service website gives a list of circumstances when homicide or assault is justifiable ("Justifiable homicide circumstances,"), this could be aided in a decision on whether these actions could be held justifiable or not by an investigator according to standards and factors if an event were to occur.

Updated: Apr 14, 2023
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The Justified Use of Force and the Constant Battle in the American Society. (2023, Apr 14). Retrieved from

The Justified Use of Force and the Constant Battle in the American Society essay
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