Know Your Gun Rights: Pennsylvania’s Stand Your Ground LawsFeb 13 2020, by Assault & Domestic Violence, Firearms/Weapons, Violent Crimes in
Most people have heard about “stand your ground laws” in the past few years. This is mostly due to the controversial February 2012 Trayvon Martin case, among other recent incidents. Unfortunately, few people understand what ‘stand your ground’ means.
If you find yourself charged with a gun crime in Philadelphia or any offense because you used a firearm, it’s always best to consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Michael Fienman has a long track record of asserting and protecting people’s gun rights and believes that you have the right to protect yourself.
What is Stand Your Ground in PA
Pennsylvania is one of 38 states that has either legislated or established through case law that you have no duty to retreat from anywhere you have a legal right to be. This relates to the commonly known “Castle Doctrine,” which establishes your right to protect yourself within your own home without first having to try and escape.
What Does Stand Your Ground Law Allow
Pennsylvania has a very similar statute to other stand your ground states. However, there are some distinctions.
Generally, stand your ground establishes a defense for justifying the use of force in either a civil or criminal case. In short, they are an extension of the self-defense exception.
Stand your ground laws authorize the use of deadly force to protect yourself or others from threats of force or bodily injury without being required to try to escape. You can also use protective force in public where you have a right to be by law. This includes cars, homes, and other public places.
In Pennsylvania, any person “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and use force, including deadly force if . . . (he) believes it is immediately necessary to do so to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping, or sexual intercourse by force or threat.” See 18 Pa.C.S. § 505(b)(2.3) for the entire statute.
What Isn’t Permitted
However, Pennsylvania’s Stand Your Ground Law is not absolute. Unless the threatening party is an intruder in your home or vehicle, a simple threat of violence or feeling of danger is not enough to justify force. There must be a reasonable expectation of immediate danger. This means that a deadly weapon, like a gun or knife, must be visible and immediately accessible.
Also, protecting yourself must be “immediately necessary.” For example, if the attacker tries to flee, the use of force is no longer justified. You also cannot chase someone down after a crime and claim protection. Finally, if you are involved in a crime at the time, stand your ground does not apply.
The hotly contested stand your ground laws get debated constantly in Pennsylvania. But the statute currently stands and could provide a valid defense if you find yourself charged with a crime for defending yourself or others.
Always Consult an Experienced Lawyer
If the police charge you for using force to protect yourself, contact a lawyer right away, the police will typically not explain all your defense options and could use statements you make against you. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will know when stand your ground applies and effectively argue for your protection.
If you believe that you should not be held responsible for using justifiable force, contact Fienman Defense immediately. Consultations are free and confidential. You should not pay for a crime if you were protecting yourself or your family. We are ready to help.