What Is Self-defense?
For example, if someone physically attacks you, you could use force to stop them from hurting you. Similarly, if someone attempts to murder or kidnap you, you could use force to prevent them from completing these actions. Self-defense doesn’t always involve using a weapon, but it can in some cases. For example, in specific instances, you could be justified in using a firearm or knife to protect yourself.
Self-defense can also involve using force to protect other people from immediate harm. For example, you could use physical force to stop someone from hurting your friend or family member.
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elf-defense Parameters in Pennsylvania
State laws specify the specific situations where self-defense is legal, and its actions are not punishable under the law. Each state law is a little different and could change what sort of charges you may face and what self-defense actions are justified. In Pennsylvania, specific parameters permit people not to retreat and utilize self-defense, such as when someone invades their house.
Two of the main situations of justifiable self-defense are when you are protecting yourself or another person from immediate harm.
person or group is attempting to kill you
person or group is attempting to cause serious bodily injury to you
person or group is trying to kidnap you
person or group is threatening or forcing you to have sexual intercourse
Protecting someone else
Pennsylvania law also has parameters for using self-defense to protect other people. Self-defense arguments apply very similarly in these situations. In general, you can use self-defense to the same level that the potential victim would be permitted to use self-defense. For example, if someone is attempting to kidnap someone, you could use deadly force to prevent that kidnapping from happening.
Additionally, you would need to believe that it was necessary to act to save the other person from harm.
Situations Where Self-defense Is Not a Valid Claim
There are certain situations where self-defense is not legal in Pennsylvania. For example, it is not legal to use self-defense in the following cases:
- To resist arrest by a police officer
- In certain circumstances where the other party is someone protecting their property
- You provoked the other person because you intended to kill or seriously injure them
- In certain circumstances where you knew you could safely remove yourself from the situation without using force (however, this does not apply in cases where you are in your home or workplace and someone attempts to come into this space to harm you).
sing Self-protection as a Defense in Criminal Cases
Acting in self-defense justifies certain actions that would otherwise be illegal in Pennsylvania. Claiming that you acted out of self-defense may be a valid option in some criminal cases. Working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer can be extremely helpful in your case.
Begin Your Case With a Free Consultation
Our team of legal experts at the Law Offices of M.J. Synder can help you in several specialty areas of criminal defense. We will carefully review what happened in your case to see if self-defense is a valid argument. We will review the evidence to help the courts reach a fair verdict.