Choice of Evils Defense Law and Legal Definition

Choice of Evils Defense is a defense to a criminal charge based on the assertion that the criminal act was committed to avoid the commission of an even greater evil. According to this defense a defendant should be exculpated even if s/he has caused the harm or evil which will ordinarily constitute a criminal offense if the defendant has not caused a net harm or evil because of justifying circumstances. Not all jurisdictions recognize this defense. In jurisdictions that recognize the choice of evils defense, it encompasses both of the older defenses of duress and necessity.

Choice of Evils Defense is also known as lesser-evils defense or general-justification defense.