Defense and self-defense in Pennsylvania are known as “use of force in self-protection.” It’s one of the most misunderstood defenses in criminal law. Let’s discuss the Pennsylvania statute on this issue. Also, we’ll talk about examples of what doesn’t qualify as self-defense.
Pennsylvania’s Law in Governing Self-Defense – The Use of Force in Self Protection
Here’s what the Pennsylvania statute says:
The use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for protection against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.
Key Aspects of the Statute
A person might only use force on another individual when force is deemed to be immediately necessary to protect oneself against the use of another person’s force. In this case, you would not be able to retaliate tomorrow if someone hit you today. You also wouldn’t be able to attack someone from behind if that individual turned and walked away after striking you. This force is deemed not immediately necessary to protect yourself, as he or she was walking away. If you did attack the person, your assault would be considered a new assault and not self-defense.
Lastly, if you’re attacked as you’re headed to your car, but you are able to get in your car and lock it, you are not legally allowed to leave your car and attack the person. If you are able, you would then have a duty to retreat. After you’re inside the car, you can no longer make the argument to exert force on another person in self-defense. If you are in your home or workplace, however, your duty to retreat doesn’t apply.
Justifying the Necessity for Use of Force and Understanding Limitations
Under the law, there are some limitations on the use of force. For instance, a person should not use force to resist an arrest being made by a police officer, even if the person being arrested knows for certain that the arrest is unlawful. Also, a person may only use deadly force if he or she believes that the level of force is necessary to protect against situations such as forced sexual intercourse, kidnapping, serious bodily injury, or death.
If a person provokes injury or attack either by word or by act, self-defense is not justified. One can’t be the aggressor in that situation.
Have You Been Charged with a Crime?
If you’ve been charged with a crime, you will need qualified legal counsel to represent you. Call Mazzoni Karam Petorak and Valvano today to schedule an appointment to discuss your defense.