When people are charged with violent crimes in Pennsylvania, they commonly assert that they committed the act of violence in self-defense. If you sufficiently prove that you acted in self-defense, you will likely avoid a conviction. However, self-defense is not an acceptable claim in every situation. For example, you may not use force to resist an arrest or to simply defend your property. There are many situations in which you may claim self-defense, however, and the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act sets out some guidelines when use of force is acceptable against another person.
Acts of self-protection
An individual may use force when he believes the force is necessary to protect himself from another person who is using unlawful force. Furthermore, an individual may use deadly force if he believes it is necessary to protect himself from imminent death, serious bodily harm, kidnapping, or forced sexual intercourse. However, an individual may not use such force if he was the person who initially provoked the encounter or if he knows he may avoid harm simply by retreating from the encounter.
A person does not have the duty to retreat or attempt to retreat from an encounter that takes place in their home, vehicle, or under some circumstances, place of work. The legal right to use force in these places is called the Castle Doctrine. In addition to the Castle Doctrine, Pennsylvania law also has a Stand Your Ground provision. This provision relieves people of the duty to retreat and gives them the right to use force to protect themselves outside of their home, vehicle, or workplace if they are confronted with a weapon.
Protection of others
You are allowed to use force for the protection of a third person when you believe that the third person would be justified in using force in their own self-defense.
Contact a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney for a consultation
The use of self-defense as justification for violence can be complicated and may only be used under certain circumstances. To further complicate matters, in order to use self-defense, you essentially admit to the act of violence. So if the defense does not work, you have admitted to acting violently against another person. For this reason, it is always imperative to be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you are facing criminal charges, contact attorney Brian Zeiger at The Zeiger Firm as soon as possible to begin working on your case.