Security Guard Kills Knife-Wielding Man in Cell Phone Store: The Legal Defense of Justification

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

A security guard shot and killed a man armed with a knife in a store in northern Philadelphia. The incident provides an important glimpse into an important aspect of self-defense law: the defense of justification.

Security Guard Kills Knife-Wielding Man in Philadelphia

According to reports of the incident, a man wielding a butcher's knife stormed into a cell phone store near the intersection of North Broad Street and West Lehigh Avenue just after noon on March 12, 2019. He went around the counter while holding the knife, where an armed security guard shot him once in the chest.

The man was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Self-Defense and Criminal Charges for Murder

There is a lot to unpack in this scenario and lots that we do not know. What we do know, though, is that the security guard shot someone and killed him and that killing someone else can lead to murder charges.

If there is any question whatsoever that the killing was not the result of self-defense, prosecutors are likely to file criminal charges for murder. A conviction can come with up to a life sentence and can even lead to the death penalty.

Proving that the killing was done in self-defense is itself a defense to a criminal charge. In cases where it was clear that the killing was an act of self-defense, that legal defense strategy can be so strong that it deters prosecutors from even filing charges. When it is less clear, though, prosecutors can press charges and force the defendant to make their case of self-defense to the jury.

Defense of Others: Justification

Self-defense does not just apply to dangers faced by the individual person holding the weapon – it can also help someone if they acted in defense of others, as well. In Pennsylvania, this is the law of justification and is found in Pa. Cons. Stat. §§502-503.

While the statutes are vague, subsequent cases have filled in a lot of the blanks. People who have acted in defense of others and killed someone else, like this security guard, can make use of the defense of justification if they can show that:

  1. They believed someone else was in danger of death or serious bodily harm,
  2. They believed that they needed to use deadly force to defend that other person, and
  3. Those beliefs were reasonable in light of all of the circumstances known to them

Because so much of this legal defense relies on the person's beliefs and knowledge at the time of the incident and because so much is at stake in the case, having a skilled criminal defense lawyer on hand to present the argument is critical for your future.

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Team at LLF Law Firm

Our Criminal Law Team are criminal defense lawyers in Philadelphia who can make use of the justification defense for people who are facing very serious criminal charges. Contact us online or call our law office at 888-535-3686 for the legal help you need.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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