What Does it Mean to Act in Self-Defense?
Self-defense is a concept in Pennsylvania and the United States, in general, that is accepted. People use self-defense to protect themselves from serious bodily harm or death. In Pennsylvania, there is a set of laws about the act of self-defense.
What is Self-Defense?
The act of self-defense involves using a certain level of force to prevent violence against oneself. The force used in self-protection should be to an extent that is reasonable when the individual is in genuine fear for their physical safety and to prevent serious bodily harm or death. The threat against them must be immediate. It can be physical or even verbal. For example, if a person approached your vehicle while you are in it and demands to get inside to carjack and threatens to shoot or harm you, you would be justified in using force to defend yourself.
While Pennsylvania doesn’t have “Stand Your Ground” laws, which allow you to use deadly force to protect yourself against serious bodily harm, death, rape, kidnapping, or robbery, it does cater to the Castle Doctrine law. The Castle Doctrine is similar in that it allows you to use force without first having to retreat if you are in your home, car, or at your workplace. The name “castle” refers to areas where you feel safest and secure. The theory behind the law is that if you feel threatened, you don’t have to retreat from using force against an attacker. The only exception is if you are the initial aggressor.
Pennsylvania’s Self-Defense Laws
According to the state’s self-defense laws, you are permitted to protect yourself or another person from imminent bodily harm or death by using force. Deadly force is allowed if you reasonably believe it necessary to prevent the commission of a criminal act that can directly lead to serious bodily injury, death, kidnapping, or rape. Per the law, you do not have to retreat from your home, vehicle, or workplace unless you were the initial aggressor.
It’s worth noting that the law states if you are in the same situation as the person you are defending, you are permitted to use the same force to protect yourself. You must reasonably believe the individual you are protecting would be justified if they used the same level of force and that your help is necessary to protect that person.
Likewise, you are legally permitted to use force to justify the protection of your property.
Speak with an Attorney
If you are in a situation where you had to use self-defense to protect yourself, it’s important to speak with the best criminal defense attorney Doylestown PA has to know your rights. If you are arrested after using self-defense, even if you know you were legally in the right and need a defense attorney Philadelphia has options available to you. Your attorney will use their full knowledge of the law to your advantage and build a strong defense in your favor.