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Were your actions in self-defense? 

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Any type of violence makes most people uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the world can be a dangerous place and there may come a time when you need to defend yourself. If you have defended yourself through the use of force, is this a crime? Or, could your actions constitute self-defense

In Pennsylvania, the answer to these questions depends on the specific circumstances of your case. Here are some factors to consider. 

Were you under immediate threat? 

For your actions to constitute self-defense, you must have reasonably believed that you were under a physical threat. A reasonable belief essentially means that any other person would have reasonably felt the same way. 

The threat must also be immediate. For example, a person cannot act with force toward a person who has made an online threat but no present physical threat.  

Was the force necessary and proportionate? 

Unlike other states, Pennsylvania does not have a stand-your-ground law. This means that if you have a chance to get away from the threat, you should take it. There are, however, some exceptions. If you are facing an immediate threat by someone with a deadly weapon, then there is no duty to retreat. 

Whatever the situation, force used in self-defense must be proportionate. For instance, it would not be proportionate to respond to a shove with the use of a deadly weapon.

What about your home? 

Pennsylvania uses the Castle Doctrine. This means your home is your castle and you are entitled to defend it. There is no duty to retreat from your own home, but the force used in self-defense must still be reasonable, necessary and proportionate to the threat.

If you are facing charges and believe you acted in self-defense, it’s vital to seek legal guidance as soon as possible — before you speak with the police.