One of the primary defenses in Criminal Cases is the defense of self-defense. Self-Defense can be used as a defense in Criminal Cases for a number of different reasons. First, an accused can use self-defense in order to defend himself, other people that he is with or may know and even his property. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the law of self-defense is addressed in the Doctrine which is familiarly known as the Castle Doctrine. Assault Crimes The Castle Doctrine, which gained quite a bit of attention in the Florida homicide case against Mr. Zimmerman, involves the notion that people (specifically an accused), does not have a duty to retreat or run away from an aggressor. Specifically, an accused has the right to stand his ground. And that notion is certainly true if an accused is in his dwelling, home or residence at a time when people are attempting to forcibly enter.
Self-Defense becomes an issue in criminal cases in Pennsylvania, when an accused asserts that the only reason he used force was because he felt threatened. There are two different types of force which an accused can use depending upon the circumstances. One type of force is deadly force (firing a gun or using a knife in order to protect yourself against an aggressor), and non-deadly force (throwing a punch or tackling someone who is being aggressive). The main standard of proof used in these types of cases, eyewitness identification is that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused did not act reasonably when he acted to defend himself or herself. The standard of reasonableness essentially means, would a reasonable person have acted in the same manner that the accused acted in defending himself. Make sure to contact an experienced Chester County Criminal Lawyer if you believe you acted in Self-Defense