Legal Dictionary

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Force

Force is pressure, power or violence that is directed towards a person or thing. When force is used as a verb it means to compel someone to do something by physical means or by legal requirement.

  • Actual force — strength or power, especially if it is a violent act directed at a person or robbery victim.
  • Constructive force — in regard to robbery, anything that produces fear, such as threats, gestures and intimidation to gain control and to prevent resistance. Actual force is applied to a robbery victim; constructive force operates on the mind.
  • Deadly force — violent action used for the purpose of creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury. Deadly force can be used in self-defense if an attacker uses deadly force. Also referred to as extreme force.
  • Excessive force — force that is unnecessary, unreasonable, or unjustified under the circumstances. The use of deadly force to respond to taunts by an upset neighbor is an example of excessive force.
  • Extreme force — See deadly force (above).