Cults, Deprogrammers, and the Necessity Defense

This Note considers the applicability of the necessity defense in criminal prosecutions of parents and deprogrammers. Part I explores the conflicting policies that underlie the traditional necessity defense, and suggests that courts replace their unitary approach to necessity with a “choice of evils” defense – for actors reasonably attempting to avoid a greater evil – and a “compulsion” defense – for actors reacting understandably to the pressure of circumstances. Part II applies these defenses to deprogramming cases, and concludes that rarely may they be advanced successfully.