When is breaking the law "justified?"

A Massachusetts teen made national headlines when her school punished her for being at a party that was broken up by police. She was sober and picking up a friend who had been drinking.

The teen escaped legal trouble, but we wanted to know if Missouri has any measures to protect people who break the law in extenuating circumstances.

The answer is yes: it is in Chapter 563 of the Missouri Revised Statutes and is called defense of justification.

"The general statute doesn't apply to physical force but "[justification] generally" says that if you are forced to break the law in order to prevent a bigger harm, then you cannot be found guilty of breaking that law,"Jason Ludwig, an attorney at Carson and Coil in Jefferson City said.

"The classic example is you're speeding to get somebody to a hospital where they might otherwise die or become very injured."

Ludwig says the burden of proving justification falls on the defendent.

The defendent must first state the reasons that they deem the act justifiable. If a judge determines them to be, a judge or jury then determines whether or not the alleged facts are true.