About Justifiable Defence in Chinese Criminal Law
Justifiable defence is the act being exempted from crimes, namely, this act appears to cause damage to lawful rights and interests, but in essential it protects lawful rights and interests. Therefore, Chinese Criminal Law definitely prescribes that this act doesn't constitute crimes.
According to Criminal Law, an act that a person commits to stop an unlawful infringement in order to prevent the interests of the state and the public, or his own or other people's individual rights, rights of property or other rights from being infringed upon by the on-going infringement, thus harming the perpetrator, is justifiable defence, and he shall not bear criminal responsibility.
Justifiable defence must include the following conditions: Firstly, the purpose of this act is to prevent the interests of the state and the public，or a person's own or other people's individual rights, rights of property or other rights from being infringed upon by the on-going infringement. Secondly, there must exist an unlawful infringement, including criminal acts as well as other illegal acts. Thirdly, the unlawful infringement must be on going, which means an unlawful infringement has begun and has not finished yet. Fourthly, an actor can only defend against the person who himself commits unlawful infringement. Finally, the act of justifiable defence can not obvious exceed the limit of necessity and cause serious damage. If a person's act of justifiable defence obvious exceeds the limits of necessity and causes serious damage, which is considered as undue defence, he shall bear criminal responsibility. However, he shall be given a mitigated punishment or be exempted from punishment.
Moreover, in order to effectively protect lawful rights and interests and encourage citizens to carry out actively justifiable defence, our Criminal Law prescribes that if a person acts in defence against an on-going assault, murder, robbery, rape, kidnap and other crime of violence that seriously endangers his personal safety, thus causing injury or death to the perpetrator, it is justifiable defence instead of undue defence, and he shall not bear criminal responsibility. According to this provision, it is not undue defence to the acts in defence against crime of violence that seriously endangers one's personal safety.
Justifiable defence is an important problem in criminal jurisprudence. It is an effective way to protect the rights and interests of the state and people. However, in practice, it is also difficult to judge the limits of justifiable defence sometimes. It need further research by experts of criminal jurisprudence gradually.