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Most laws include special circumstances in which the use of physical force is specifically authorized. Some of these circumstances may include:
- “The lesser of two evils”—you can use physical force if it will result in less injury than if you fail to use force. For example, you push someone out of the path of a speeding car.
- A parent, guardian, or person entrusted with the care and supervision of a minor for a special purpose may use reasonable physical force to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of such minor.
- Officials of a jail, prison, or correctional institution may use physical force to maintain order and discipline as authorized by corrections law.
- A person responsible for maintaining order on a common carrier, such as a bus driver, train conductor, or airline crewmember, may use physical force when necessary to maintain order, and may use deadly physical force if necessary to prevent death or serious physical injury. This also applies to any private citizen designated by such person to assist in maintaining order.
- Anyone acting under the reasonable belief that another person is about to commit suicide or inflict serious physical injury upon himself may use physical force to prevent the suicide or the self-inflicted serious injury.
- A licensed physician or person acting under his or her direction for the purpose of administering a recognized form of treatment with the consent of the patient, or his or her parent or guardian, may use physical force., However, the person may still face civil liability. Consent is not required in emergency situations where failure to act would result in greater injury to the patient.