The police say you assaulted somebody. What actually happened was, the other person lunged at you, and you were just protecting yourself from harm. What do you do now?
Like every other state, Pennsylvania allows you to use force against someone you reasonably believe is trying to kill you or cause you great bodily harm. This is known as self defense. If you are charged with a violent crime related to the incident, you may be able to plead self defense and show that you acted within the law, based on the evidence at trial.
Self defense and deadly force in Pennsylvania
Proving self defense can become more complicated if the other person died. You may have heard the term “stand your ground” before. This refers to laws in some states which allow you to use deadly force to protect yourself in any location, even when you have the option to flee the danger. Pennsylvania is not a stand your ground state, but it does have something called the castle doctrine. The castle doctrine that your home is your “castle” and you do not have to retreat from it when attacked. Instead, you can use any amount of force necessary, including deadly force. The castle doctrine also applies to inside your vehicle and your workplace.
You are also allowed to use deadly force to protect another person from violence from a third party in certain cases. For example, deadly force is legally justified when you reasonably believe it is necessary to protect the other person, and when you reasonably believe the other person would be justified in using deadly force to protect themselves.
Find out if self defense is a viable choice for you
A self-defense plea can require experienced legal representation to make your case successfully. Contact a criminal defense attorney in your area to discuss self defense law and other possible options for dealing with a violent crime charge.