Posted on 11/26/18

There is a significant contrast between businesses that operate within the law versus businesses that operate outside the law. Businesses that operate within the law have the prerogative of applying legal methods of enforcement, whereas businesses operating outside the law must usually enforce obligations with other methods. As a result, enforcement measures may be seen outside the law and often go to trial. When this occurs, a defendant may still be able to claim necessity, despite the circumstances.

Outside the Law Example

Suppose Mark runs an escort business. His operation consists of sex workers and similarly positioned people who generally work at night. His “employees” are often underage, illegal, and trafficked from other states or countries. Mark uses the threat of physical violence and access to illegal drugs as a way of compelling his employees to be loyal to him.

Part of the unwritten rules of the Dallas sex scene are that one pimp can not steal an employee from another pimp. When one of Mark’s sex workers leaves his ring for another, Mark does not sit back. If Mark gets a name as a pimp who can not keep his workers, other pimps will pluck workers from him because they will perceive Mark as weak. Therefore, Mark will use means outside of the law, to enforce his claim to his workers.

To retrieve his worker, Mark will use violence and the threat of violence against the new pimp. Mark will send his men to the other pimp’s place to get back his worker. Mark and these men will go there armed and shoot if they have to. Going to law enforcement is not an option.

Legal Question

Suppose Mark loses one of his workers to another pimp, Dave, and decides to retaliate. Very early one morning, Mark enters the property of the new pimp armed with an AK 47. Mark and his men storm Dave’s house and start ransacking the place. Mark shouts out the name of his sex worker and demands that she return to him.

During this time, Dave hears the commotion from downstairs. He is always concerned whenever he brings on an experienced sex worker that her former pimp or madam will retaliate. To that end, Dave keeps a gun next to his bed just in case.

Mark and his men rush up the stairs. Mark demands that his worker return to him, but she is not there. Mark then charges into another room. As soon as he walks in, Dave opens fire, killing Mark and his men.

Neighbors call the police, who arrest Dave and his crew. At trial, the prosecutor presents Dave as a sleazeball killer. While Dave may have been acting outside the law, he is still entitled to a necessity defense if he reasonably believed that his life was in danger. His action with respect to prostitution does not prevent him from using deadly force, despite what the prosecutor may present to the jury.

Accused of a crime? Contact the criminal defense firm of Christopher Abel.

(image courtesy of Jack Finnigan)

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