If self defense is asserted at trial, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force wasn’t justified.

Alfonso Gambone
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A Philadelphia criminal defense attorney representing accused persons throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Our Philadelphia based criminal defense law firm has represented a number of clients charged with violent felony offenses where the issue of self-defense and use of force were critical to our success at trial. 


Self Defense

What Self Defense Does for You at Trial

It’s always important to remember that if self defense is asserted at trial, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force wasn’t justified.  This is an extremely powerful jury instruction in any case involving the charge of aggravated assault, attempted murder, or murder.   

The Use of Deadly Force

The use of deadly force is justified in Pennsylvania when such force is immediately necessary to protect oneself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping, or sexual intercourse by force or threat and the act is not provoked for the purposes of using deadly force against an individual. The same rules apply to using force to protect another person. There is no duty to retreat in Pennsylvania if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • You have a right to be where you are
  • You are not engaged in criminal activity
  • You legally possess your firearm
  • You have a right to use deadly force and there is a firearm, a replica firearm, or other lethal weapon displayed

Presumed Threats in Pennsylvania

There is a presumed threat to use deadly force when a person is entering, has entered, or is attempting to enter a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, and this unlawful and forced entry has occurred or is occurring.

Keep in mind that if you have to use deadly force there is no criminal liability for the injury to an innocent bystander injured as a result of that force, provided that the force is legally justified. However, you may be found civilly liable for the person’s injuries.

Remember that you have the right to carry in Pennsylvania and our Commonwealth’s  Constitution pursuant to Article 1, Section 21, provides its citizens the Right to Bear Arms and Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act of 1995, located in the crimes code, chapter 18, section 6101, provides uniform rules for the entire state regarding the care, use, and regulation of firearms within the Commonwealth.  I encourage you to pick up a copy of my free book—What Everyone Should Know About Guns, Drugs & Defense Lawyers in Pennsylvania.  

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