All states make allowances in the law for using force — even potentially deadly force — against another person if it’s believed necessary to prevent serious harm to themselves or other people, and even to protect property. These are generally referred to as self-defense laws. Let’s take a look at Pennsylvania’s self-defense laws.
To protect yourself
A person can use force (including deadly force) if they reasonably believe it is required to protect themselves against someone’s unlawful use of force that could cause serious injury or death. It may also be used to try to prevent rape or kidnapping.
To protect someone else
A person can legally use force (even deadly force) if they reasonably believe another person is in that same level of danger and that their assistance is necessary to protect that person from an unlawful use of force.
To protect property
A person can legally use force to “prevent or terminate” unlawful entry onto property or to prevent the “unlawful carrying away of tangible movable property, if such land or movable property is, or is believed by the actor to be, in his possession or in the possession of another person for whose protection he acts.”
When in your home, workplace or vehicle
Pennsylvania follows a law known as the “castle doctrine.” It allows people to use force rather than try to leave if they are in imminent danger in any of the three places noted above. People do not have a duty to retreat unless they initiated the aggression. Note that the castle doctrine is not as broad as the “stand your ground” laws that some states have.
If you are facing criminal charges for an action you took that you considered self-defense or that you believe is covered under the castle doctrine, you will need to present a strong and convincing case. Contact the Quinn Law Firm at 814-833-2222 to seek legal guidance from an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney.