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A sufficient or acceptable excuse or explanation made in court for an act that is otherwise unlawful; the showing of an adequate reason, in court, why a defendant committed the offense for which he or she is accused that would serve to relieve the defendant of liability.

A legal excuse for the performance or nonperformance of a particular act that is the basis for exemption from guilt. A classic example is the excuse of Self-Defense offered as justification for the commission of a murder.

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


Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

JUSTIFICATION. The act by which a party accused shows and maintains a good and legal reason in court, why he did the thing he is called upon to answer.
     2. The subject will be considered by examining, 1. What acts are justifiable. 2. The manner of making the justification. 3. Its effects.
     3.-1. The acts to be justified are those committed with a warrant, and those committed without a warrant. 1. It is a general rule, that a warrant or execution, issued by a court having jurisdiction, whether the same be right or wrong, justifies the officer to whom it is directed and who is by law required to execute it, and is a complete justification to the officer for obeying its command. But when the warrant is not merely voidable, but is absolutely void, as, for want of jurisdiction in the court which issued it, or by reason of the privilege of the defendant, as in the case of the arrest of an ambassador, who cannot waive his privilege and immunities by submitting to be arrested on such warrant, the officer is no longer justified. 1 Baldw. 240; see 4 Mass. 232; 13 Mass. 286, 334; 14 Mass. 210. 2. A person may justify many acts, while acting without any authority from a court or magistrate. He may justifiably, even, take the life of an aggressor, while acting in the defence of himself, his wife, children, and servant, or for the protection of his house, when attacked with a felonious intent, or even for the protection of his personal property. See Self- defence. A man may justify what would, otherwise, have been a trespass, an entry on the land of another for various purposes; as, for example, to demand a debt due to him by the owner of the land to remove chattels which belong to him, but this entry must be peaceable; to exercise an incorporeal right; ask for lodging's at an inn. See 15 East, 615, note e; 2 Lill. Ab. 134; 15 Vin. Ab. 31; Ham. N. P. 48 to 66; Dane's Ab. Index, h.t.; Entry. It is an ancient principle of the common law, that a trespass may be justified in many cases. Thus: a man may enter on the land of another, to kill a fox or otter, which are beasts against the common profit. 11 H. VIII. 10. So, a house may be pulled down if the adjoining one be on fire, to prevent a greater destruction. 13 H. VIII. 16, b. Tua res agitur paries cum proximus ardet. So, the suburbs of a city may be demolished in time of war, for the good of the commonwealth. 8 Ed. IV. 35, b. So, a man may enter on his neighbor to make a bulwark in defence of the realm. 21 H. VIII. b. So, a house may be broken to arrest a felon. 13 Ed. IV. 9, a; Doder. Eng. Law. 219, 220. In a civil action, a man may justify a libel, or slanderous words, by proving their truth, or because the defendant had a right, upon the particular occasion, either to write and publish the writing, or to utter the words; as, when slanderous words are found in a report of a committee of congress, or in an indictment, or words of a slanderous nature are uttered in the course of debate in the legislature by a member, or at the bar, by counsel, when properly instructed by his client on the subject. See Debate; Slander; Com. Dig. Pleader, 2 L 3 to 2 L 7.
     4.-2. In general, justification must be specially pleaded, and it cannot be given in evidence under the plea of the general issue.
     5.-3. When the plea of justification is supported by the evidence, it is a complete bar to the action. Vide Excuse.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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Solid majorities of Americans feel that NASA's budget is justifiable and that it should be maintained or increased.
We believe that the decision to relocate the tribunal sitting to Abuja was also without any justifiable reason because there had been no reports on any security breach neither had there been any other cogent factor that could have necessitated the action.
The resolution added that while Trillanes is a public official and should not be 'onion skinned' from the criticisms from the public, it is not an excuse 'to make baseless lies and make up stories' more importantly if the post has 'no good intention or justifiable motive for doing so.'
The Sangguniang Panlungsod, however, may, for a justifiable reason or cause, extend the same without surcharges for a period not exceeding six months.
There were 13 states in which zero justifiable firearm deaths were logged that year.
As plaintiff notes, in Baczkowski (89 NY2d at 503), the Court of Appeals stated that CPLR 3216 is "extremely forgiving" and, "depending on the circumstances, a plaintiff is not always required to establish both a justifiable excuse and a potentially meritorious cause of action to avoid such a dismissal" (see Davis v Goodsell, 6 AD3d 382, 383-384 [2004]).
In an interview in the New Statesman magazine, Begg revealed the airport bomber revealed the airport bomber "would be's the first person to"would be's the first person to say" that the attack was "not say" that the attack was 'not justifiable'".
Canada averages a dozen police shootings per year; Germany only had eight police killings over the last two years; while cops in Britain did not have a single "justifiable homicide" last year, according to the Washington Post.
Making the case that it should be possible to eject MPs for breaking pre-election pledges, he said: "I think that would be a justifiable use of it.
by Lalit K Jha on 8 July, 2014 - 10:50 WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The US Secretary of State, John Kerry on Tuesday expressed grave concern over reports of protests in Afghanistan and of suggestions of a parallel government, adding there is no justifiable recourse to violence.
Global Banking News-January 15, 2014--Trichet says bank guarantees to Ireland were justifiable
The question asked whether the respondent believed that accepting a bribe in the course of one's duties was justifiable. Responses were measured on a 10-point Likert scale where 1 is never justifiable and 10 is always justifiable.