One of the defenses presented by Philadelphia criminal lawyers representing those accused of crimes is self-defense, which is an affirmative defense. Self-defense is often presented in Philadelphia murder and homicide cases. Pursuant to Pennsylvania law, an individual can use force to protect themselves. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. §505(a) provides:
Use of force justifiable for protection of the person.–The use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.
In addition, an individual has no duty to retreat and may stand their ground pursuant to 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. §505(b)(2.3) which provides:
An actor who is not engaged in a criminal activity, who is not in illegal possession of a firearm and who is attacked in any place where the actor would have a duty to retreat under paragraph (2)(ii) has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and use force, including deadly force, if:
(i) the actor has a right to be in the place where he was attacked;
(ii) the actor believes it is immediately necessary to do so to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse by force or threat; and
(iii) the person against whom the force is used displays or otherwise uses:
(A) a firearm or replica of a firearm as defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 9712 (relating to sentences for offenses committed with firearms); or
(B) any other weapon readily or apparently capable of lethal use.
What is an Affirmative Defense in Philadelphia Criminal Murder Cases?
In any Philadelphia criminal case, whether it is a drug, homicide or murder case, a defendant does not have the burden to prove they are innocent. The burden rests on the prosecution to prove a defendant’s guilt. In other words, defendants are innocent until proven guilty. However, if the defendant presents an affirmative defense, such as self-defense, that burden shifts onto the defendant. The defendant has to prove that his/her actions were justified. For instance, a defendant may be on trial for murder in Philadelphia. The defendant’s attorney presents the affirmative defense of self-defense. In such a case, the defendant has to prove that he was justified to use force or deadly force because he was under the reasonable belief that force was necessary to prevent serious injury or death to himself.
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