Too often we see stories in the news of innocent people being thrown into scary situations through no fault of their own. Whether it’s a robbery or burglary, home invasion or carjacking, sometimes people are forced into a life-threatening scenario.
Your first priority is protecting your family. Ours is protecting you. That’s why ERIE introduced a new coverage to help with the expense of defending yourself in court should something unthinkable like this ever happen.
But first, let’s talk about what happens if you’re put in a situation where you have to defend yourself, your family or your property. While you should always put your personal safety first, it’s important to know the law too. Be prepared by knowing your state laws, especially if you own a firearm or have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
What are the laws?*
In the United States, intentionally causing physical harm to another person can result in criminal or civil legal liability. In many instances a person could be liable for causing harm even if the other person had threatened or attacked first.1 Many states, however, have passed laws providing that in certain situations an individual has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense. These are referred to as “stand your ground” laws. This article from the National Conference of State Legislatures provides state-by-state information so you can be informed.
What happens after the incident?
If you’ve had to defend yourself or your property, what happens next? Typically, after the 911 call to report the incident, you will likely go through the following steps2:
- First responders arrive.
- Law enforcement personnel and possibly the assistant district attorney begin the investigation.
- You may or may not be taken into custody. Questioning takes place – be sure to ask for your attorney as soon as possible.
- If you were taken into custody, you may or may not be released, asked to post bond or held in jail.
- Law enforcement may or may not file charges against you.
- If charges are filed, the prosecutor may support or disagree with charges filed by the police.
- At your first appearance in court you enter a plea. (Your attorney will be your advocate advising you on your plea and guiding you through the legal system.)
- The trial process takes place.
- The outcome is determined by a judge in a bench trial or by a jury of peers in a jury trial.
- If found “Not Guilty”, you are acquitted. (This is where our ErieSecure Home® policy comes in – see below.)
Naturally, all of this can be frightening, which is why it is essential to find and retain good legal representation. And even if you’re found innocent of any wrongdoing, the legal costs can be in the thousands of dollars. ERIE can protect you by covering some of those legal costs after charges have been dropped, you’re found not guilty or you have been exonerated.
There’s insurance for that
Our ErieSecure Home policy with the Select bundle now includes criminal defense cost reimbursement3. Your local ERIE agent can explain how it works and give you a quote for adding the Select bundle to an ErieSecure Home policy in order to have the coverage.
Specifically, the Select bundle includes $25,000 of coverage for defense and legal expenses incurred to defend a criminal charge arising from reasonable acts to protect people and property, when the insured is found not guilty of the charges. Examples of legal fees covered include reasonable attorney fees, bonds and actual loss of earnings.
If you’re already an ErieSecure Home customer with the Select bundle, this new coverage is automatically included. You don’t need to do anything. If you have ErieSecure Home insurance but do not have additional coverage through a bundle (or have the Advantage or Plus bundle instead), talk to your ERIE agent for a quote on the Select bundle.
Helping people deal with the alarming reality of today’s news stories is just another way Erie Insurance takes good care of its customers. We believe in treating people right and this is one more way we can do that.
*Nothing in this article is or should be considered to be legal advice. Readers are encouraged to find and consult qualified legal advisors regarding this subject.
3 The information provided here is a summary and does not include all coverages and benefits available through an ErieSecure Home® policy or apply to all states. Coverages, benefits, limits and deductibles will vary. Conditions, exclusions and limitations will apply. Refer to our disclaimer for more information. Talk to an ERIE agent for state specific policy information.