When Can You Claim Self-Defense in Pennsylvania?
In the state of Pennsylvania, you have the right to defend yourself against certain threats that you face. You can even use a weapon, and sometimes deadly force, when it is justifiable for you to do so. There are laws that establish when you are allowed to claim self-defense.
If you do act to defend yourself, police will investigate the shooting or other actions you have taken to ensure that your behavior was justified. You may wish to be represented by a Pennsylvania self-defense lawyer during this investigation. In some cases, people who acted in their own defense, or in defense of others, will actually end up facing criminal charges. If you are charged, you need a lawyer to defend yourself so you can try to avoid conviction.
Self-defense is justified in circumstances where your behavior was in accordance with Pennsylvania law. Pennsylvania has “stand your ground” laws, which are laws that make it clear you do not have a duty to retreat if you are under threat. In some states, you are only allowed to defend yourself if there is no way to escape from the threat.
Pennsylvania’s laws are found in 18 PA consolidated statutes 505(b)(2.3). Under the law, the use of force against another person is justifiable if the person who acts in self-defense believes that the use of force is “immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.”
Limitations on Use of Force
There are some limited exceptions to this basic rule. For example, you are not allowed to use force to defend against another force you provoked. This means if your original conduct justified the other person acting against you, you cannot legally use force to defend yourself. The statute outlines situations where the use of force may not be justified.
Other situations where the use of force is not justified include:
- Resisting arrest by a peace officer;
- Resisting force used by the occupier of property or by another person who is defending their property;
- When the individual provokes the actions being taken against him;
- And when the individual is unlawfully entering another’s property.
It is up to you to prove that you acted in accordance with the law so you can avoid being charged by a prosecutor and/or convince a court to acquit you if the prosecutor brings charges against you in a criminal case.
Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam: Self-Defense Lawyer in Pennsylvania
You should have an attorney representing you when you talk with police or prosecutors and you should definitely have a Pennsylvania self-defense lawyer if a prosecutor brings charges against you. If you have purchased self-defense liability insurance, your insurer should hopefully cover your costs to defend your freedom after a justifiable act of self-defense.