Sexual assault stories have dominated the news recently, and we have received many questions about defending others against sexual assault and rape. We reached out to Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards to get the answers to your legal questions on defending a third party against rape and sexual assault.

Doug Richards: Doug Richards here for U.S. LawShield of Colorado coming to you from our beautiful Denver office. Wanted to share a question that we recently received with you, and that is whether you can use force or deadly force to defend a third party you saw being sexually assaulted. I know it is a very difficult thing to imagine, but this question is not just limited to that fact scenario.

It really is more expansive than that because the Colorado Revised Statutes has an affirmative defense called Defense of Others or Defense of a Third Party. And what that does is it allows you to stand in that person’s shoes, the victim’s shoes, and if they could use force or deadly force to protect themselves. Then you witnessing this crime could use force or deadly force to protect them. Now, obviously it all fits in this reasonableness standard that the Colorado Revised Statute requires and demands. So you have to make sure you understand the limits to the amount of force you’re allowed to use under the specific circumstances you’re facing that day.