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The explanation for the performance or nonperformance of a particular act; a reason alleged in court as a basis for exemption or relief from guilt.

An excuse is essentially a defense for an individual's conduct that is intended to mitigate the individual's blameworthiness for a particular act or to explain why the individual acted in a specific manner. A driver sued for Negligence, for example, might raise the defense of excuse if the driver was rushing an injured person to a hospital, or if some unforeseen illness or mechanical failure made safe operation of the vehicle impossible.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

EXCUSE. A reason alleged for the doing or not doing a thing. This word presents two ideas differing essentially from each other. In one case an excuse may be made in, order to own that the party accused is not guilty; in another, by showing that though guilty, he is less so, than he appears to be. Take, for example, the case of a sheriff who has an execution against an individual, and who in performance of his duty, arrests him; in an action by the defendant against the sheriff, the latter may prove the facts, and this shall be a sufficient excuse for him: this is an excuse of the first kind, or a complete justification; the sheriff was guilty of no offence. But suppose, secondly, that the sheriff has an execution against Paul, and by mistake, and without any malicious design, be arrests Peter instead of Paul; the fact of his having the execution against Paul and the mistake being made, will not justify the sheriff, but it will extenuate and excuse his conduct, and this will be an excuse of the second kind.
     3. Persons are sometimes excused for the commission of acts, which ordinarily are crimes, either because they had no intention of doing wrong, or because they had no power of judging, and therefore had no criminal will (q.v.); or having power, of judging they had no choice, and were compelled by necessity. Among the first class may be placed infants under the age of discretion, lunatics, and married women committing an offence in the presence of their husbands, not malum in se, as treason or murder; 1 Hale's P. C. 44, 45 or in offences relating to the domestic concern or management of the house, as the keeping of a bawdy house. Hawk. b. 1, c. 1, s. 12. Among acts of the second kind may be classed, the beating or killing another in self-defence; the destruction of property in order to prevent a more serious calamity, as the tearing down of a house on fire, to prevent its spreading to the neighboring property, and the like. See Dalloz, Dict. h.t.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
In fairly unusual (though by no means extraordinary) circumstances, they have sometimes argued the reasons theory fails to allow any defense (whether of justification or excuse) for persons who, according to our intuitions, should be exculpated.
So if a lack of knowledge is your excuse, "what you're saying is, 'I'm to lazy to learn.
President Rodrigo Duterte is now against the legalization of cannabis (marijuana) for medical use, saying that drug users will just use it as an 'excuse' to cultivate the plant.
EXCUSE me if I don't hang out the bunting and blow a trumpet for the news that the Premier League is extending its PS30 cap on the price of away tickets.
Najaf, Iraq (NINA) - The leader of the Sadrist movement Moqtada al-Sadr said that the time is still early for the post of prime minister, stressing not to give an excuse to those who fail to response to his call for the march for the elections.
The Lawful and Reasonable Excuse and the Importance of Incident Notification under Life Insurance Policies: A Recent Case in the Dubai Court of Cassation
a man asked me excuse me excuse me--twice he asked excuse me.
Pestered commuters of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT)-3 need refunds and not "lame" excuse slips, said AKO-Bicol party-list Rep.
But the most potty excuse came from a Newcastle resident who told an investigator: "Oh hen, I don't need a TV Licence because I don't watch it.
"Some of the humour and originality in this year's excuses provided a laugh for our enquiry officers and customer service centre staff, but behind every excuse is someone who has been caught watching or recording live TV without a licence."
And, quite frankly, there is no excuse why anyone in the UAE would want to arm themselves with such deadly weapons.