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What are the Looting Laws in Pennsylvania?

July 14, 2020

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Protests have erupted throughout the country in recent weeks, including right here in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, not everyone that attends these protests only wants to have their voices heard. Some people that engage in these protests want to take it even further by rioting and looting nearby businesses.

In Philadelphia on May 31 alone, there were 91 people arrested for code violations and 43 people arrested for looting and burglary. The looting has caused problems, not only for the business owners that watch as their livelihood is torn apart, but also for the people that had only intended to peacefully protest but are deemed looters simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is for this reason that everyone in the state should understand the laws on looting, and its associated consequences.

What is Looting?

Many people believe that looting and stealing are the same things. While both of these actions do generally involve some type of theft, looting generally occurs during wartime, or a time of disturbance. Although many see looters as simply law-breakers, the truth is that looting typically occurs because people become extremely angry and frustrated and, particularly during recent events, they do not have an appropriate outlet for their grief. Still, the truth is that looters do usually break the law either by destroying or stealing property. When that is the case, they may face serious consequences.

Laws on Looting in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania does not have a specific law governing looting. Anyone that is arrested while looting, will face charges for Robbery. A conviction for robbery will result in seven to ten years in prison, depending on whether anyone was hurt during the commission of the crime.

Defending Your Property

In most instances, business owners may want to protect their property if they fear that it will become damaged. This is generally not a good idea, as riots and looting often become dangerous and business owners may become injured. Still, for individuals that do want to protect their property, there are laws in Pennsylvania that protect them.

The main law that protects business owners is the Stand Your Ground law. This law allows individuals to use deadly force to protect themselves or others from force or bodily injury when they are lawfully in a public place. The Stand Your Ground law states that individuals do not have an obligation to retreat before they use deadly force. However, the law does state that individuals that use deadly force must have a reasonable expectation of immediate danger, such as seeing the other person carrying a weapon.

Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers are Here to Help

As the country goes through this difficult time, there is a chance that the looting and rioting in Pennsylvania will continue. As it does, people will be wrongfully charged with Robbery and other crimes and people that only want to rightfully protect their property may also face charges. If you are charged with any type of offense, our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers are here to help. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, we know how to ensure that your rights are upheld and how to craft a solid defense to give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can assist with your case.


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