Self-defense is one of the most important defense strategies available to people who have been accused of a violent crime. You have a right to defend yourself, even if that self-defense would technically amount to a crime.
A shooting in Philadelphia almost perfectly tracks Pennsylvania's self-defense law when it comes to using deadly force.
Employee Shoots Apparent Robber in Philadelphia
That shooting happened during the afternoon of Monday, August 26, 2019, in southwestern Philadelphia.
Around 4 pm, a man walked into the Metro PCS store at the corner of South 70th Street and Elmwood – a store that had been robbed twice in the past year. When he walked inside, he displayed a pistol and tossed something onto the counter, possibly a note that the store was being robbed.
The store clerk, however, had a concealed carry permit and had his own gun on him. He drew his weapon and shot the robbery suspect several times.
The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene shortly thereafter.
No one else was in the store at the time.
A Defense to Allegations of a Violent Crime: It Was in Self-Defense
If you ignore all of the context, this is a clear cut case of the most serious violent crime on the books in Pennsylvania: Intentionally killing another human being is murder. The store clerk in this case pulled his gun on someone and intentionally shot him several times, killing him in the process.
He could easily be accused of murder or at least manslaughter.
Some intentional killings, though, are justified. One way for a murder to be justified is if it was done in self-defense.
In some cases, prosecutors won't even file criminal charges against you when it is abundantly clear that you were acting in self-defense. Where there is any doubt, though, the district attorney can choose to file charges and let a judge and jury decide whether the killing was a justified example of self-defense.
A Clear-Cut Walk-Through of Pennsylvania's Justified Use of Deadly Force Law
The use of deadly force in self-defense is the most difficult to justify because it is not just violent, it is fatal.
18 Pa. Cons. Stat. 505 is the law in Pennsylvania that outlines the use of deadly force in self-defense. § 505(2.3) is of particular importance for this situation and is very on-point. This particular section of the law explicitly gives you the right to use deadly force in self-defense – without the need to retreat from the altercation – if you:
- Are not committing a crime,
- Legally possess the firearm you use,
- Are attacked in your workplace,
- Believe it is immediately necessary to protect yourself from a serious injury, kidnapping, or rape, and
- See the other person display a firearm.
Criminal Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento Serves Philadelphia
In this case, the only real question is whether step 4 was satisfied by the robbery suspect's display of a gun. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer like Joseph D. Lento to prove that it was satisfied can be the difference between an acquittal and a conviction for a severe criminal offense.
Contact him online or call attorney Lento at (215) 535-5353 for legal help.