Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Rescue Definition:

Taking and setting at liberty, against the law, either goods or imprisoned persons.

The predominant usage at common law is in reference to the criminal offence of rescue: interference with lawful imprisonment by forcibly freeing the lawfully imprisoned person.

The successful prosecution of a person for rescue resulted in the rescuer being convicted of the same crime for which the person rescued was initially imprisoned, along with the consequential punishment.

Even if the rescued person was eventually acquitted, the rescuer could be convicted for obstruction of justice.

In the United States, rescue is a felony defined as follows at §752(a) of the US Code, Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 35:

“Whoever rescues or attempts to rescue or instigates, aids or assists the escape, or attempt to escape, of any person arrested upon a warrant or other process issued under any law of the United States, or committed to the custody of the Attorney General or to any institution or facility by his direction, shall, if the custody or confinement is by virtue of an arrest on a charge of felony, or conviction of any offense, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both; or, if the custody or confinement is for extradition, or for exclusion or expulsion proceedings under the immigration laws, or by virtue of an arrest or charge of or for a misdemeanor, and prior to conviction, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both....”

Canada’s Criminal Code, at §147, reflects the common law in providing for a punishment of up to five years of imprisonment any person who:

“... rescues any person from lawful custody or assists any person in escaping or attempting to escape from lawful custody.”

In rent or sale of goods, goods can be taken back where lawfully seized or distrained.

Categories & Topics:


Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!