Expanded Castle Doctrine Reinforces Right of Self-Defense
10/13/2011
Defending oneself is a natural reaction when faced with an imminent threat, but in Pennsylvania, people who use lethal force in such situations now have some added legal protections.

Act 10 of 2011, known as the Castle Doctrine, clarifies state law so that legal protection is afforded to law-abiding citizens who use lethal force in protecting themselves and their families. Residents who are protecting themselves and their families should not have to fear criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit if using force against an intruder is warranted.

If an attacker or intruder breaks into a home or occupied vehicle, the law creates an initial presumption that he can be met with lethal force.

The initial presumption of the legal use of deadly force in self-defense would also apply if an assailant is trying to unlawfully remove an occupant, against his or her will, from a home or vehicle. The legislation is based on a similar bill enacted in Florida that addresses the use of deadly force in self-defense and defense of others within an individual’s residence or occupied vehicle.

However, the presumption would not apply if the purported victim uses deadly force against another person who is a resident of the home; a law enforcement officer; or a parent, grandparent or other guardian removing a child from the home or vehicle. In addition, this legislation would not apply if the person using deadly force was using his or her home or vehicle to engage in criminal activity.

It is important to emphasize that this new law does not endorse unlawful aggression. It merely provides individuals with the necessary legal protection to respond to such aggression. In addition, the homeowner who legally uses deadly force to protect him or herself or others would have protection from lawsuits filed by an assailant who illegally entered a home, business, or vehicle and suffered death or injuries because of the deadly force used against the assailant. The homeowner who successfully defended a suit would be authorized to collect attorney’s fees, court costs and lost income from the attacker (or his family) who commenced the lawsuit. This provision will protect homeowners from senseless, time-consuming and expensive litigation.

For more information about the Castle Doctrine or other state laws, please contact my office at 1245 Chestnut St., Unit 5, in Emmaus, telephone 610-965-9933. For the latest news from the state House, visit my website at RepReichley.com.

State Representative Douglas Reichley
134th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
RepReichley.com
Facebook.com/RepDougReichley
Contact: Patricia Hippler 
phippler@pahousegop.com 
717.772.9846
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