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Old November 18th, 2009, 05:01 PM
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Default What is PA law concerning self defense in your home?

With the push to pass the castle doctrine in PA, it got me to wondering.....what is PA law concerning protecting yourself in your home. When are you justified in shooting an intruder? Do they have to be in your bedroom, or just anywhere on your property?
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Old November 18th, 2009, 05:07 PM
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Default Re: What is PA law concerning self defense in your home?

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Originally Posted by Last Resort View Post
With the push to pass the castle doctrine in PA, it got me to wondering.....what is PA law concerning protecting yourself in your home. When are you justified in shooting an intruder? Do they have to be in your bedroom, or just anywhere on your property?
you are justified in shooting an intruder when you are in fear of being killed, raped, kidnapped, seriously injured, etc. this applies on your property, off your property, in your home, outside your home, etc.

the only thing different about being in your home is that outside of your home (whether on your property or not), you are required to retreat before using force to defend yourself if you can do so "with complete safety". inside of your home, you are not required to retreat first even if you can do so "with complete safety".

the use of force laws as they currently stand can be found here:

(make sure to differentiate between just plain "force" and "deadly force" when reading these statutes.)

http://www.acslpa.org/pa_uniform_firearms_act.htm

(also note that the use of force statutes are not part of the uniform firearms act even though they are listed along with the UFA on this web page and the page is called pa_uniform_firearms_act).

Quote:
Title 18, §505. Use of Force in Self-Protection.

(a) Use of force justifiable for protection of the person.—The use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.

(b) Limitations on justifying necessity for use of force. —

(1) The use of force is not justifiable under this section:

(i) to resist an arrest which the actor knows is being made by a peace officer, although the arrest is unlawful; or

(ii) to resist force used by the occupier or possessor of property or by another person on his behalf, where the actor knows that the person using the force is doing so under a claim of right to protect the property, except that this limitation shall not apply if:

(A) the actor is a public officer acting in the performance of his duties or a person lawfully assisting him therein or a person making or assisting in a lawful arrest;

(B) the actor has been unlawfully dispossessed of the property and is making a reentry or recaption justified by section 507 of this title (relating to use of force for the protection of property); or

(C) the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily injury.

(2) The use of deadly force is not justifiable under this section unless the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat; nor is it justifiable if:

(i) the actor, with the intent of causing death or serious bodily injury, provoked the use of force against himself in the same encounter; or

(ii) the actor knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating or by surrendering possession of a thing to a person asserting a claim of right thereto or by complying with a demand that he abstain from any action which he has no duty to take, except that:

(A) the actor is not obliged to retreat from his dwelling or place of work, unless he was the initial aggressor or is assailed in his place of work by another person whose place of work the actor knows it to be; and

(B) a public officer justified in using force in the performance of his duties or a person justified in using force in his assistance or a person justified in using force in making an arrest or preventing an escape is not obliged to desist from efforts to perform such duty, effect such arrest or prevent such escape because of resistance or threatened resistance by or on behalf of the person against whom such action is directed.

(3) Except as required by paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, a person employing protective force may estimate the necessity thereof under the circumstances as he believes them to be when the force is used, without retreating, surrendering possession, doing any other act which he has no legal duty to do or abstaining from any lawful action.

(c) Use of confinement as protective force. — The justification afforded by this section extends to the use of confinement as protective force only if the actor takes all reasonable measures to terminate the confinement as soon as he knows that he safely can, unless the person confined has been arrested on a charge of crime.

Title 18, §506. Use of Force for the Protection of Other Persons.

(a) General rule. — The use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable to protect a third person when:

(1) the actor would be justified under section 505 of this title (relating to use of force in self-protection) in using such force to protect himself against the injury he believes to be threatened to the person whom he seeks to protect;

(2) under the circumstances as the actor believes them to be, the person whom he seeks to protect would be justified in using such protective force; and

(3) the actor believes that his intervention is necessary for the protection of such other person.

(b) Exceptions.—Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section:

(1) When the actor would be obliged under section 505 of this title to retreat, to surrender the possession of a thing or to comply with a demand before using force in self-protection, he is not obliged to do so before using force for the protection of another person, unless he knows that he can thereby secure the complete safety of such other person.

(2) When the person whom the actor seeks to protect would be obliged under section 505 of this title to retreat, to surrender the possession of a thing or to comply with a demand if he knew that he could obtain complete safety by so doing, the actor is obliged to try to cause him to do so before using force in his protection if the actor knows that he can obtain complete safety in that way.

(3) Neither the actor nor the person whom he seeks to protect is obliged to retreat when in the dwelling, or place of work of the other to any greater extent than in his own.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 05:07 PM
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Default Re: What is PA law concerning self defense in your home?

Even in your own home you must be in fear of life, serious bodily injury, rape, or kidnapping. You may use deadly force to stop a felony committed within your dwelling too. But you cannot shoot them just because they are in your house, and the new bill/law will NOT change that. However, you are not required to retreat in or from your home before using force or deadly force if so justified like you have to elsewhere(in complete safety).


http://forum.pafoa.org/concealed-ope...nsylvania.html (READ FIRST: Where you CAN and CANNOT Carry weapons in the State of Pennsylvania)


Quote:
==================

Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground in PA:

Castle Doctrine - one's home(and place of work in PA): PA does have probably 90% of full blown Castle Doctrine as coded statute, and practices it in common law. You have no duty to retreat from your home or place of work, unless you were the initial aggressor and/or the other person has a lawful right to be there as well. The only thing that PA lacks with true "Castle Doctrine" is the assumption that the person unlawfully entering your home is doing so to do harm. You must believe that you are at immediate risk of serious bodily injury, death, rape or kidnapping before using deadly force. However, there is a provision under the Protection of Property section of law to stop unlawful entries if a felony is committed within a dwelling. And also a PA Supreme Court ruling stating deadly force may be used if all attempts to effect an arrest for a forcible type felony fail(Commonwealth v. Chermansky 1968, reaffirmed in Kopko v. Miller 2005).

Stand Your Ground - anywhere else in PA: PA lacks this type of provision allowing you to meet force with force anywhere. However, PA does grant one's place of work as a extension to the Castle Doctrine. Any place else you must retreat if you can do so "in complete safety" before using force. If you cannot retreat with complete safety, or are faced with immediate deadly force, risk of serious bodily injury, rape, or kidnapping - you may use deadly force to protect yourself.

Protection of Others: You may use force to protect another if they are in the same situation as you would be required to be in before using deadly force as described in the Stand Your Ground section above. Sort of a "in their shoes" type provision.

Civil Liabilities: This is usually added on with "Stand Your Ground" provisions. PA lacks such protections in our laws and you may face civil lawsuits even if the use of force is justified.
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Last edited by knight0334; November 18th, 2009 at 05:13 PM.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 05:10 PM
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Default Re: What is PA law concerning self defense in your home?

You must be in fear for your life or serious bodily harm. You must retreat in COMPLETE safety if you can do so.

For example: I would say by the time someone makes it into your front door in with a baseball bat/knife/gun in hand, I think a COMPLETELY safe retreat is out of the question. If you're in fear for your life then you know what to do.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 05:14 PM
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Default Re: What is PA law concerning self defense in your home?

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Originally Posted by jcabin View Post
You must retreat in COMPLETE safety if you can do so.
not if you are inside your own home (or fixed place of business--unless it is also the other guy's fixed place of business). that is the one thing that is different about in your home vs. outside of it.

but, yep, you still need to be in fear of death, severe bodily injury, etc. or, as knight pointed out, you can, at least in theory, just be stopping a felony in your own home, but personally i would, for my own guidelines, limit that to felonies that put me in fear of death, severe bodily injury, etc. anyway.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: What is PA law concerning self defense in your home?

Here is the felony within a dwelling clause.

Quote:
18 Pa.C.S. § 507: Use of force for the protection of property
(a) Use of force justifiable for protection of property.--The use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary:
(c) Limitations on justifiable use of force.--
(4) (i) The use of deadly force is justifiable under this section if:
(A) there has been an entry into the actor's dwelling;
(B) the actor neither believes nor has reason to believe that the entry is lawful; and
(C) the actor neither believes nor has reason to believe that force less than deadly force would be adequate to terminate the entry.
(ii) If the conditions of justification provided in subparagraph (i) have not been met, the use of deadly force is not justifiable under this section unless the actor believes that:
(A) the person against whom the force is used is attempting to dispossess him of his dwelling otherwise than under a claim of right to its possession; or
(B) such force is necessary to prevent the commission of a felony in the dwelling.
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Old November 18th, 2009, 05:29 PM
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Default Re: What is PA law concerning self defense in your home?

The biggest thing to remember is you and only you are responsible for your own actions. Shooting someone is probably the biggest choice one would ever have to make. I know if my family was in danger there isn't a law out there that would keep me from protecting them. Me on the other hand, I would more cautious before opening fire as to really feeling my life was in danger. I have had guns pointed in me in hostile situations and never fired at anyone. And thinking back I am glad it never came down to that.
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Old November 19th, 2009, 09:51 AM
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Default Re: What is PA law concerning self defense in your home?

Thanks for all the help so far. This forum is a great place to clarify/understand PA laws. From what I gather, if an intruder broke into my living room, and I felt my life was threatened, I would be justified in using deadly force right then and there. I would not be required to continously retreat through my house until cornered. This does not apply outside my home. Outside my home, I am required to retreat (within reason), if I can, before using deadly force.

Am I summarizing this correctly?
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Old November 19th, 2009, 10:07 AM
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Default Re: What is PA law concerning self defense in your home?

Yes, that pretty much sums it up..
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Old November 19th, 2009, 10:12 AM
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Default Re: What is PA law concerning self defense in your home?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Last Resort View Post
Thanks for all the help so far. This forum is a great place to clarify/understand PA laws. From what I gather, if an intruder broke into my living room, and I felt my life was threatened, I would be justified in using deadly force right then and there. I would not be required to continously retreat through my house until cornered. This does not apply outside my home. Outside my home, I am required to retreat (within reason), if I can, before using deadly force.

Am I summarizing this correctly?
ETA: I just want to hit on retreat, so you don't end up getting yourself killed by having a weak understanding of the retreat claus

Not really. Since the claus says you must retreat only when you can do so in complete safety, retreating is rarely an option. I think you don't understand what it really means. COMPLETE safety means you can escape the situation completely unharmed, and safe. With almost no fear for your life or bodily injury.

If someone attempts to mug you on the street, can you out run bullets? How can you retreat in COMLPETE safety? The very fact that the assailant has a gun, means your option for a completely safe retreat has been forcibly removed.

Likewise with a knife or melee weapon, are you 200% sure you can out run the attacker who has a blood lust and is possibly on a power house drug like cocaine or pcp? Generally speaking, most criminals are in better shape then the people they target, so expect 90% of the time, they can out run you at the very least. Predators usually pick the weakest prey they can find, because it yields easy kills. Not to say that you are weak, but in this predators mind he's about to destroy you, that is the criminals mentality.

Are you really going to retreat from lamp post to lamp post? When you say retreat continuously I kind of laugh as I get this funny image of a warner bro's cartoon.

Could you explain what you meant?
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Last edited by jcabin; November 19th, 2009 at 10:14 AM.
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