What is the Legal Definition of the Stand Your Ground?

Pennsylvania has a Stand Your Ground law enshrined in the 18 Pa C.S. § 505(b)(2.3) statute. The rule allows you to use deadly force in self-defense if you believe you’re in immediate danger in a place where you’re legally supposed to be. The law is applicable in many circumstances compared to the previous version known as the Castle Doctrine.

Despite the rule, someone could file a lawsuit against you for assaulting them. You could use the Stand Your Ground rule as a defense, but several factors must be in play. It would help to consult a skilled criminal defense and injury lawyer in Philadelphia to learn how the rule plays out. They can advise you whether the doctrine applies in your case and how to defend yourself.

How Does the Stand Your Ground Rule Work?

The statute justifies using deadly force to defend yourself, others, or your property in the face of immediate risk of pertinent bodily harm or danger.

However, it may have nuances and caveats that sometimes make it hard to understand. While you can use force to protect yourself in the home, things can be different outside the home.

Stand Your Ground Rule in Your Home

The “Stand Your Ground” Law doesn’t apply inside the home in Philadelphia as, in this case, you’re protected by the Castle Doctrine. It allows you to use force without first retreating from danger if you’re in your home, workplace, or vehicle. In this case, the reference to a “castle” implies that your home or vehicle is your castle and a place where you should feel secure.

If you feel threatened or are attacked in your castle, you shouldn’t be forced to retreat from the attackers. You can use deadly force to protect yourself from kidnapping, sexual assault, harm, or death. However, the rule doesn’t apply if you’re the initial attacker or the intruder is clearly harmless.

You’re only supposed to use the castle doctrine if you reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to stop an intruder from forcibly entering your home or trying to remove someone from your home. An experienced assault lawyer in Philadelphia can evaluate your case and advise you accordingly.

Stand Your Ground Rule Outside Your Home

If someone attacks you outside your home in Philadelphia, the tradition is that you should try to escape before using force or deadly force. However, Pennsylvania’s Stand Your Ground law doesn’t require you to retreat or try to find an escape route in the face of danger if the following conditions exist:

  • Your attacker or the person you used force against displayed a weapon or firearm capable of deadly use.
  • You had reasonable belief that force or deadly force was necessary to protect yourself from harm, sexual assault, kidnapping, or death.
  • You were legally at the location where the attack occurred.

An example is if someone attacked you or tried to rob you at gunpoint while walking on a public sidewalk. In that case, you would be justified to use deadly force in self-defense, an expansion of the Castle Doctrine. However, talk to an experienced Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense attorney to be clear if the Stand Your Ground law would work as a defense in this case.

Are There Limitations to the Stand Your Ground Law in Pennsylvania?

The Stand Your Ground law isn’t absolute, meaning there are limitations to its application. For example, unless the person you attacked is an intruder in your home or vehicle, a simple feeling of danger or violence doesn’t justify using deadly force.

You must have reasonable expectation or belief that danger is coming your way, for example, the attacker having a deadly weapon. Additionally, if the other person has the right to be there, for example, your roommate, you cannot use force or deadly force and then claim the Stand Your Ground rule.

Secondly, it must be necessary to protect yourself immediately. If the attacker flees before you attack them, using deadly force or force on them is no longer justified. You also cannot chase someone down after they commit a crime and claim you attacked them in self-defense. Besides, you can’t claim that you were afraid of getting punched in the arm and therefore shot the aggressor in self-defense.

Unlawful Use of Deadly Force

Stand Your Ground doesn’t apply when you were unlawfully at a place, engaged in a crime, or provoked the incident. Even if you were at a place where you were legally supposed to be but were engaged in criminal activity, you cannot claim the Stand Your Ground rule in this case.

Examples of situations where the rule wouldn’t apply are if you were trespassing, engaged in a criminal activity such as drug dealing, or robbing a bank. The law would also not apply if you’re

  • A prohibited person because of something you did in the past against the law
  • Under temporary PFA
  • Under a 302 commitment
  • Under a mental health commitment

However, you’d be able to use other self-defense laws, specifically not Stand Your Ground. Your assault attorney in Philadelphia would be in a position to provide legal counsel on the defense strategy you can use under these circumstances.

Seek Legal Guidance Against Assault Charges in Philadelphia

Facing assault charges can be frightening as the repercussions can ruin your life and future. However, the Stand Your Ground rule would be an applicable defense only if your circumstances meet the conditions stipulated under the statute. Do not go to trial before consulting a skilled Philadelphia assault lawyer to defend you.

Our firm has criminal defense attorneys who have been practicing for many years. They know how the criminal justice system works and can help you navigate the complex laws to protect your rights and future. If you’re facing assault charges, let us help you prove your innocence in court. Talk to us today.