1 a defense of some offensive behavior or some failure to keep a promise etc.; "he kept finding excuses to stay"; "every day he had a new alibi for not getting a job"; "his transparent self-justification was unacceptable" [syn: alibi, exculpation, self-justification]
2 a note explaining an absence; "he had to get his mother to write an excuse for him"
3 a poor example; "it was an apology for a meal"; "a poor excuse for an automobile" [syn: apology]
1 accept an excuse for; "Please excuse my dirty hands" [syn: pardon]
3 serve as a reason or cause or justification of; "Your need to sleep late does not excuse your late arrival at work"; "Her recent divorce amy explain her reluctance to date again" [syn: explain]
4 defend, explain, clear away, or make excuses for by reasoning; "rationalize the child's seemingly crazy behavior"; "he rationalized his lack of success" [syn: apologize, apologise, justify, rationalize, rationalise]
5 ask for permission to be released from an engagement [syn: beg off]
6 excuse, overlook, or make allowances for; be lenient with; "excuse someone's behavior"; "She condoned her husband's occasional infidelities" [syn: condone]
- AHD: ĭkskyo͞os'
- IPA: /ɪkˈskjuːs/ (UK), /ɛksˈkjuːs/ (UK), /ɪksˈkjus/ (US)
- SAMPA: /Iks"kju:s/ (UK), /Eks"kju:s/ (UK), /Eks"kjus/ (US)
- Rhymes: -uːz
- To forgive; to
- I excused him his transgressions.
- To allow to leave.
- May I be excused from the table?
- I excused myself from the proceedings to think over what I'd heard.
- May I be excused from the table?
- To provide an excuse for; to explain, with the aim of
alleviating guilt or negative judgement.
- You know he shouldn't have done it, so don't try to excuse his behavior!
allow to leave
explain with the aim of alleviating guilt or negative judgement
- An explanation designed to avoid or alleviate guilt or negative
- Tell me why you were late – and I don't want to hear any excuses!
- We often say to make an excuse.
- (explanation designed to avoid or alleviate guilt or negative judgement): pretext
explanation designed to avoid or alleviate guilt or negative judgement
In jurisprudence, an excuse or justification is a form of immunity that must be distinguished from an exculpation. In this context, "to excuse" means to grant or obtain an exemption for a group of persons sharing a common characteristic from a potential liability. "To justify" as in justifiable homicide means to "vindicate" or show the justice in the particular conduct. Thus, society approves of the purpose or motives underpinning some actions or the consequences flowing from them (see Robinson), and distinguishes those where the behavior cannot be approved but some excuse may be found in the characteristics of the defendant, e.g. that the accused was a serving police officer or suffering from a mental illness. Thus, a justification describes the quality of the act, whereas an excuse relates to the status or capacity (or lack of it) in the accused. "To exculpate" means to free a particular individual from culpability after he or she has caused loss or damage and to represent this in a judgment that is either an acquittal or mitigates sentencing in the criminal law, or reduces or extinguishes the liability to pay compensation to the victim in the civil law.
ExplanationThe executive and legislative branches of modern states enact policy into laws which are then administered through the judicial system. Judges also have a residual discretion to excuse individuals from liability if it represents a just result. When considering the consequences which are to be imposed on those involved in the activities forming the subject matter of the common law or legislation, governments and judges have a choice:
- the criminal or civil defendant may be excused from liability as belonging to a class of person that ought to be excused, their behaviour may be considered justified, or an exculpation may be allowed on the merits of the particular case.
An exculpation is a defense in which a defendant argues that despite the fact that he or she has done everything to constitute the crime, tort or other form of wrong and so, in principle already has guilt for those actions and/or a liability to compensate the victim, he or she should be exculpated because of the special circumstances said to operate in favor of the defendant at the time the law was broken.
- This is an aspect of the public
policy of parens
patriae. In the criminal law, each state will consider the
nature of its own society and the available
evidence of the age at which antisocial behavior begins to manifest
itself. Some societies will have qualities of indulgence toward the
young and inexperienced and will not wish them to be exposed to the
criminal law system before all other avenues of response have been
exhausted. Hence, some states have a policy of doli incapax
and exclude liability for all acts and omissions that would
otherwise have been criminal up to a specified age. Thereafter,
there may be a rebuttable
presumption against the use of criminal sanctions except in
more serious cases. Other states leave discretion to prosecutors to argue or the
judges to rule on whether the child understood that what was being
done was wrong.
- The status of minor may also excuse liability in the civil law for contract, tort and other legal situations during which liabilities would otherwise attach to the infant. Where there is only minimal understanding, transactions entered into will be void, i.e. the infant is excused. When understanding grows in line with age, the law switches from excuse to exculpation, and transactions may be voidable, i.e. the courts will judge, whether in the particular circumstances, it would be right to favor the interests of the child or the interests of the other party or parties involved in the transaction. Hence, it would not be appropriate to allow a child knowingly to deceive innocent retailers or service providers into supplying value, and then allow him or her to avoid liability to pay a reasonable sum of money for those goods or services. This is a balancing of political and commercial interests.
- If individuals are a danger to society and/or to themselves but not responsible through a lack of understanding, there is no point in punishment (whether in the criminal or non-criminal sense). Punishment is only justified morally if the person understands that what was done was wrong and accepts the judgment of society as part of the process of expiation and rehabilitation. Hence, as with parens patriae, the state accepts the person as being in need of care, and offers or requires medical treatment instead of subjecting such people to the stress of having to undergo a trial as to liability.
- Settled insanity is defined as a permanent or "settled" condition caused by long-term substance abuse and differs from the temporary state of intoxication. In some United States jurisdictions "settled insanity" can be used as a basis for an insanity defense, even though voluntary intoxication can not, if the "settled insanity" negates one of the required elements of the crime such as mens rea.
- This criminal defense straddles the divide between excuse and exculpation. It works by showing that the defendant's mind was not in control of the body's movements at the relevant time and that this loss of control was not foreseeable. For example, a diabetic suffering a hypoglycaemic attack will not be liable for any loss or damage caused. To that extent, it borrows from the policy excuse favoring those who are suffering from a mental illness, but allows the full trial as to liability to proceed. For a detailed comparative law discussion, see automatism (case law)
- In this situation, the defendant has actually done everything
to constitute the breach of the law and intended to do it in order
to avoid some threatened or actual harm. Thus, some degree of
liability already attaches to the defendant for what was done. In
law, the usual rule is that the defendant's motive for breaking the
law is irrelevant although, in the criminal law, this may reduce
the sentence. The basis of the defense argues that the threats made
by the other person make the defendant's entire behavior
involuntary and therefore the liability should reduced or removed.
The extent to which this defense should be allowed, if at all, is a
simple matter of public policy. A state may say that no threat
should force a person deliberately to break the law, particularly
if this breach will cause loss or damage to a third person.
Alternatively, a state may take the view that even though people
may have ordinary levels of courage, they may nevertheless be
coerced into agreeing to break the law and this human weakness
should have some recognition in the law. For example, suppose that
a group of terrorists kidnap A's family and instruct A to carry a
large bomb into a crowded area as the price for the release of his
family. If A carries out these instructions, making no effort to
contact the police or to warn those in the danger area, the issue
of liability for death and injury resulting depends on whether the
state wishes to encourage terrorists to use local citizens of
well-known reputation as their bomb carriers. This is not a legal
but a political decision.
- In the civil law, duress is similarly only an exculpation, rendering contracts and other transactions voidable, and offering only minor mitigation in the calculation of the amount of any damages payable.
- The fundamental policy operating here is ignorantia juris non excusat, i.e. the state cannot allow ignorance of the law to be a defense. This would unduly encourage the lazy and the deceitful to trade on their ignorance (real or otherwise). Thus, only mistakes relating to the factual basis of what is being attempted can form this defense and, in the majority of situations, it will only offer limited benefit to a defendant of ordinary capacity since the state owes no general duty to save citizens from the effects of their own ignorance or stupidity. Nevertheless, there may be limited circumstances in which people may honestly believe things that either prevent them from forming the requisite mens rea or from reaching an id idem agreement
- This is an example of a purely mitigatory defense in that, in the few situations when it is allowed to operate, it only reduces the level of criminal liability. In most legal systems, it cannot extinguish liability. It is a natural part of human nature that people get angry when they are provoked. But the state has a positive interest in maintaining good order and therefore, no matter what is done or said, people are not supposed to react violently or to cause loss or damage. Even though certain forms of physical contact or particular words might cause even reasonable people to become seriously annoyed, the state cannot sanction or justify retaliation. Thus, in most aspects of the law, any loss of control is taken to be an aggravating factor that, in the criminal law or the law of intentional torts, might well lead to an increase in sentencing, or the award of punitive or exemplary damages.
- Berman, Mitchell N., Justification and Excuse, Law and Morality, (2003) Col. 53, No. 1 Duke Law Journal http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/dlj/articles/dlj53p1.htm
- Gorr, Michael & Harwood, Sterling, (eds.), Controversies in Criminal Law. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992.
- Gorr, Michael & Harwood, Sterling, (eds.), Crime and Punishment: Philosophic Explorations. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 1995.
- Hart, H.L.A Punishment and Responsibility: Essays in the Philosophy of Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968. ISBN 0-19-825181-5
- Kadish, Excusing Crime, (1987) Vol. 75 California Law Review, 257.
- Robinson, P. H. Criminal Law Defenses: A Systematic Analysis, (1982) 82 Columbia Law Review 199.
- Smith, J.C. Justification and Excuse in the Criminal Law, (1989) Crim. LR 93.
- Westen & Mangiafico, The Criminal Defense of Duress: A Justification, Not an Excuse - And Why It Matters, (2003) Vol. 6 Buffalo Criminal Law Review, 833.
excuse in Chinese: 辩护
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