Recently, State Senator Pat Stefano introduced legislation to expand the Castle Doctrine law in Pennsylvania. The Castle Doctrine, also known as the Stand Your Ground law, allows Pennsylvanians to use force, even deadly force, if someone enters their home with the intent to commit a crime. The new legislation proposes to extend the law right to the property line, which would not require a person to enter a home before deadly force can be used.
It is expected that the bill will now be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review. In the meantime, our Allentown criminal defense lawyer explains the Castle Doctrine as it currently stands in the state.
What Does the Castle Doctrine Allow?
The Castle Doctrine got its name from Sir Edward Coke, a former parliament member in England, who once said that a man’s home was his castle, his fortress, and his safest refuge. People have a right to feel safe when they are in their own home. The Castle Doctrine allows people to use deadly force to protect themselves, their family, and their property against intruders in their home. Under the law, this deadly force can be used without the home-dweller facing any repercussions.
Justifying the Use of Force
Due to the fact that the Castle Doctrine allows people to use deadly force in certain situations and therefore, they could potentially take a life, there are very strict conditions on when a person can use this type of force. The law states using deadly force is justifiable when a person believes they or their loved ones are in danger of serious injury, death, kidnapping, or sexual intercourse compelled by threat or force. Even when one of these conditions applies, a person can still only use deadly force if:
- They have the right to be in the location where they felt they were in danger
- They did not provoke the intruder
- They do not possess an illegal firearm and are not involved in illegal activity
- They are not using deadly force to interfere with an officer of the peace
- The assailant or intruder brandishes a firearm or another type of weapon that could be lethal
When the above conditions apply, a person can use deadly force and they do not have an obligation to try and retreat. That is, they do not have to try and escape the situation before using deadly force.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Allentown Can Help with Your Charges
No one should ever have to use deadly force to protect themselves or their home and hopefully, you never find yourself in this position. If you do though, it is critical that you know your rights and that you speak to an Allentown criminal defense lawyer. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, our skilled attorneys have the necessary experience to defend you if charges have been laid, and we will always ensure your best interests are protected. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.