Friday, October 8, 2010

Castle Doctrine Passes Pennsylvania House

Only Three Days Left for Senate to Consider Bill

Pennsylvania is one step closer to enacting the Castle Doctrine. The new law would give homeowners the right to use deadly force to protect themselves, their family or home against an intruder.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the House voted 159 to 38 in favor of House Bill 40, which would expand protections included in the long-held idea that "a man's home is his castle."

Below are excerpts from the Post-Gazette article:

Under present law, homeowners can use a gun or knife or other deadly weapon to defend themselves if they find themselves facing an intruder while in their living room, dining room, den, kitchen, basement or other areas within their house.

But some areas of a house -- a garage, a porch or deck, a driveway, a front or back yard, or a personal vehicle -- are not currently included in the places where an imperiled homeowner can simply fire at an intruder. Before doing so, the homeowner must first "retreat,'' meaning step backward, away from the intruder.

Under his legislation, which now goes to the Senate, a homeowner could use deadly force against an intruder who accosts him in a garage, porch, yard etc. without first having to step back. The "duty to retreat'' would cease and a homeowner could "stand his ground."

The new law also would protect someone who uses a weapon for defense, as long as the owner is in a place where he or she is "legally permitted to be,'' such as being in a store, restaurant or other venue, walking in a parking lot or just walking along the street.

In any case, police and district attorneys would retain the right to investigate any shooting and determine if a would-be victim was justified in shooting a would-be criminal. A district attorney could still bring criminal charges if he thought the potential victim fired his weapon too quickly, without proper justification.

The entire bill can be viewed at and plugging "HB40" into the box at the top.

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