RESCUE (in Middle Eng. rescous, from O. Fr. recousse, Low Lat. rescussa, from reexcussa, reexcutere, to shake off again, re, again, ex, off, quatere, to shake), the forcible setting at liberty of a person or thing. To constitute the legal offence of rescue, the person rescued must be in the custody of a constable or private individual, but in the latter case the rescuer must know that the prisoner is in lawful custody. The punishment for the offence is fine and imprisonment, with or without hard labour, if the party rescued has not been convicted of the offence for which he was in custody. But if the prisoner has been imprisoned on a charge of, or under sentence for, high treason, felony or misdemeanour, the rescue is high treason, felony or misdemeanour. The punishment for a felonious rescue may be penal servitude for not more than seven or less than three years, or imprisonment for not more than two years, with or without hard labour. The forcible rescue of goods legally distrained or the rescuing of cattle by pound breach are misdemeanours indictable at common law, but the more usual procedure is a civil action under 2 W. & M. c. 5, s. 3 (1690), which makes an offender liable for treble damages.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)