Do I have to prove self-defense at trial, or does the district attorney have to prove that I didn’t act in self-defense?

Centre County Criminal Trial Attorney

Self-defense, also called “justification” in Pennsylvania, is an affirmative defense.  This means that the person charged with Simple Assault or Aggravated Assault must present some evidence to show that self-defense was used.  The evidence can come from whatever source, meaning other witnesses or directly from the person.  The person charged with assault does not need to actually prove that he or she  acted in self-defense, but the person must present some evidence that supports the defense.

If some evidence is presented, then the district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person did not act in self-defense. Most trials are held before a jury and not just a judge, which means that a jury would make the ultimate determination as to whether or not the person acted in self-defense.  If the jury does not believe that the district attorney disproved self-defense, then the client is found not guilty.  If the jury does not believe that the person acted in self-defense, then jury finds the person guilty.

Experienced State College assault attorney Jason Dunkle represented a Penn State student that was charged with Aggravated Assault after being forcefully arrested by the police.  The case proceeded to a trial, and the jury found the client not guilty.  To read more information about the case, click here.

Free Consultation with a State College Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have any questions about a justification defense or an assault charge, please contact our law office today for a free initial consultation at (814) 689-9139. Attorney Jason Dunkle has been representing people charged with criminal offfenses since 2004.