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Applying the Sudden Emergency Doctrine in California

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

California’s Sudden Emergency Doctrine, often called the doctrine of imminent peril, can be used by defendants to delay court actions through processes and motions. It can also be used by those trying to prevent unfair findings of comparative negligence. In order to be used defensively, the person being tried must prove that four statements are correct.

Sudden and unexpected emergency situation

Something out of the ordinary must occur for a defendant to try to prove that they are not guilty because of California’s Sudden Emergency Doctrine. In the same situation, a reasonable person would not expect the situation to occur, and no one could predict it.

Did not cause the situation

The person building a criminal defense against the charges did not play any role in causing the situation that caused someone to be injured or where injury may have occurred. For example, if the person being tried hurt someone while pulling them out of a burning building, they were not responsible for setting the building on fire.

Acted in a reasonable manner

Even if, after an event, another choice would have been better, the person acting must have done what a responsible person facing the same circumstances would have done at the time that they acted. California’s Sudden Emergency Doctrine only applies if the person has at least two choices during the emergency. In most cases, the person should have chosen the safest option, but it is essential to realize that looking back on an event often makes things more apparent than when a person was going through it.

California’s Sudden Emergency Doctrine is only applicable during a crisis, not caused by the person acting to help someone during it.