It doesn’t take long for a verbal altercation to get heated. Sometimes, these matters even turn physical. When this happens, people can be left injured, the police can be called, and allegations of criminal wrongdoing can fly. If you’re on the receiving end of these accusations, then you face the very real possibility of being slapped with severe penalties, which may include jail or prison time. That’s why you need to act with urgency in building your criminal defense.
Defending yourself from allegations of domestic violence
Oftentimes, individuals who have been accused of domestic battery were simply defending themselves at the time of the accident. But making this claim in a criminal case means that the burden is going to be on you to show that you acted appropriately under the law. Therefore, you need to know the applicable statute and how it applies to your set of circumstances.
Pennsylvania’s self-defense law
Under Pennsylvania law, you’re allowed to use physical force to defend yourself when you believe that using that force is necessary to protect yourself from another individual’s illegal use of force against you. Keep in mind though that the court is likely to assess whether your belief was reasonable under the circumstances, and whether it was necessary for you to immediately use that force. The judge or jury in your case might also consider whether the amount of force that you used was appropriate given the situation at hand.
So, before raising self-defense as your criminal defense, you need to ask yourself the following the questions:
- Did you believe that you had to use force to protect yourself from imminent risk of being injured or killed?
- Did you have the ability to flee from the situation to avoid using force?
- Was the force being used against you illegal in nature?
- Did your fear of being harmed stem from an immediate incident rather than from something that occurred in the past?
- Was the force that you used proportional in response to the force that was being used against you?
The answers to these questions will help you better determine if self-defense is a viable strategy for you.
When self-defense isn’t justified
Although there are many situations where self-defense is warranted, there are times when the use of force is still illegal. This includes each of the following situations:
- Using deadly force when it’s determined that lethal force was not necessary to prevent the attack
- Using physical force when you’re the one who initiated the incident
- Using lethal force when you have the ability to flee from the situation.
Given the restrictions on this defense strategy, you need to approach it carefully. After all, this legal argument admits that you engaged in the actions alleged by the prosecution but that you were justified in doing so. Therefore, if you can’t reliably argue that you were justified, then you’re essentially just admitting to having committed the crime as charged.
Having a legal professional assist you in developing your defense strategy
There may be more than one way to approach your criminal case. And you have to utilize the strategy that best protects you from conviction and the oftentimes harsh penalties associated with it.
That’s why you might find it beneficial to discuss the circumstances of your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney. By doing so, hopefully you can figure out the best way to beat the prosecution and protect your freedom and your future.