Can You Use Violence Without It Being A Crime?
Why was Ben Stokes found not guilty?
Who is Ben Stokes?
Ben Stokes is an England cricketer who was charged with affray before being acquitted by a jury.
But the video showed him hitting someone?
It did, However under certain circumstances you can hit somebody in defence without committing a crime.
Why did the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charge him then?
Although it is not up to the CPS to decide whether someone is guilty, it is their role to see if there is enough evidence that there may be a change of conviction.
In this case, the role of the court or jury was to decide whether or not he was acting in self-defence or of another.
How does a jury make their decision?
We don’t know what was said between the jury, as the jury can only discuss the case with each other.
The Judge provided them with a “route to verdict” document which sets out the questions that the jury needed to ask themselves before coming to a verdict.
What was the “route to verdict”?
1. Did he use, or threaten violence towards another? If no, not guilty, if yes move to Q2
2. Did he genuinely believe that it was necessary to use or threaten that violence so as to defend himself and/or another?
– If yes, was the force reasonable in the circumstances he perceived them to be? If it was, then the verdict is not guilty.
– If no, move to Q3
3. Was the conduct of all of them, taken together, such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety? If yes, the verdict is guilty, if no or it may not have been, the verdict is not guilty.
What is reasonable?
Further guidance was given that only the use of reasonable force can be lawful.
A person who genuinely believes that themselves or another is about to be attacked can react in the moment. They cannot realistically be expected to weigh up precisely how much force they need to use to defend themselves or that other person.
If they have done what they honestly and instinctively thought was necessary, then that would be strong evidence that it was reasonable. On the other hand, using an unnecessary amount of force considering what they genuinely anticipated might happen to themselves or another, then that would be unreasonable.
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