Castle Doctrine in Pennsylvania Takes Effect Today

Governor Tom Corbett signed the Pennsylvania Castle Doctrine into law on July 1.  The law which takes affect today also includes a provision establishing the Stand-Your-Ground law, officially making Pennsylvania a “No Duty to Retreat” state.

The Castle Doctrine is a common law legal doctrine that states that a person’s residence is their castle.  It provides the resident to use deadly force to defend that “castle”.  A similar doctrine, the Stand-Your-Ground law, states that a person is not required to retreat regardless of where the attack takes place.  The new law also limits an assailants ability to file lawsuits against a person who used deadly force to defend their life or property, another common feature of the doctrine.

In states without these doctrines, residents are legally required to retreat, if possible, before using deadly force.  In situations where a person used deadly force without an attempt retreat, they could find themselves subject criminal prosecution and civil liabilities.

Of course, the Castle Doctrine only applies to situations where the person feels they or their property is under threat.  The doctrine does not allow a resident to use deadly force against a simple trespass or similar situations.

The new law significantly improves a person’s right to defend themselves.

You can find the full text of the new law here.

 

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