In 46 states including Pennsylvania, people have the right to use deadly force to defend themselves if they are in danger of attack in their home. The concept behind these laws, called the castle doctrine, originated during the Roman Republic and its name comes from English common law which states that your home is your castle. A Pittsburgh violent crimes attorney can help you distinguish the right defense for you.
Pennsylvania and The Castle Doctrine
Pennsylvania has its own castle doctrine law that gives people the right to defend themselves against violent intruders entering their homes.
However Pennsylvania’s law was expanded in 2011. Today in the Commonwealth, if citizens are confronted by an attacker wielding a deadly weapon when they are outside of their home, they do not have a duty to flee; they can respond with lethal force if they are in imminent danger of being killed, sexually assaulted, or seriously injured.
Pennsylvania’s “stand your ground” law differs from some other states because the deadly weapon that could be used against you has to be visibly displayed.
Provisions in the Commonwealth’s law make it illegal to use deadly force against police or other law enforcement officers.
Stand Your Ground Laws
Stand your ground laws have come to national attention in instances such as the case of George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watch captain who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in 2012.
In Pennsylvania, if you shoot someone because you were forced to defend yourself against life-threatening attack, you do not have to face criminal or civil liability. If the defendant can prove they acted in self-defense, stand your ground laws can be used as a defense for people charged with violent crimes such as murder.