Due to gun violence in recent years, people have become more aware of what are known as “stand your ground” laws. However, people know the term but they rarely know what it actually means according to their own state’s laws. If you have any questions about stand your ground laws or if you defended yourself in a violent situation and need legal advice, contact a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney of Fienman Defense at (215) 839-9529.

Not every state has a stand your ground law, though more than half have applicable statutes or courts have decided to enforce relevant public policies. Pennsylvania’s stand your ground law is known as the Castle Doctrine, and it was recently affirmed by the state supreme court.

What Does Stand Your Ground Mean?

In general, stand your ground theory means you are not required to retreat when confronted with violence or opposition in a place that you have a right to be. Additionally, you may use physical force against someone if you reasonably believe you face serious bodily injury, kidnapping, rape, or death.

Stand your ground laws are often applied to conflict in a home. If a person attacks you or your family in your home, you can use force against that person. You are not required to run away. Stand your ground laws are similar to or a continuation of self-defense laws.

Pennsylvania Law: The Castle Doctrine

In Pennsylvania, Statute 18 Pa. C.S. Section 505 defines your right to stand your ground, otherwise known as the right to use force in self-protection under the law. In general, you may use force against another if you believe it is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting yourself against the use of unlawful force by another individual. However, Pennsylvania law specifies numerous limitations on when force is justifiable.

Section 505(b)(2.3) is a relevant stand your ground law. The law states:

An actor who is not engaged in a criminal activity, who is not in illegal possession of a firearm and who is attacked in any place where the actor would have a duty to retreat under paragraph (2)(ii) has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and use force, including deadly force, if:

(i) the actor has a right to be in the place where he was attacked;
(ii) the actor believes it is immediately necessary to do so to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse by force or threat; and
(iii) the person against whom the force is used displays or otherwise uses:

(A) a firearm or replica of a firearm as defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 9712 (relating to sentences for offenses committed with firearms); or
(B) any other weapon readily or apparently capable of lethal use.

You are allowed to stand your ground in this state, but it is within a specific situation. You must have a right to be where you are attacked, whether it is your home, another person’s residence, outside, or in a public place. You cannot illegally be on someone else’s land.

You must have a reasonable expectation of being seriously injured, kidnapped, raped or killed. Because it must be a reasonable expectation, you cannot simply claim someone yelled or swore at you.

The person who is threatening the injury, rape, or death must display a weapon capable of inflicting such an injury. If someone is yelling or threatening but shows no means of carrying out the threats, it may not be a stand your ground situation.

Call a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help

If you have been charged with a crime despite the fact you were defending yourself, call a criminal defense attorney at Fienman Defense right away. Michael Fienman has years of experienced as a defense attorney. He has strong ties to the Philadelphia community and relationships with prosecutors and judges. He will analyze your case, review the evidence from top to bottom, and build the strongest defense possible under the law.

Call Fienman Defense at (215) 839-9529.

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