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The Castle Doctrine

The Castle Doctrine

Recently, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania adopted a law authorizing the use of force in self protection and protection of other persons that has commonly been referred to as the "Castle Doctrine". The "Castle Doctrine" itself is a common law doctrine of ancient origins that declares "a man's home is his castle". It considers the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions and the guarantees contained in those documents especially the "right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned."

Anyone who has, before the adoption of the "Castle Doctrine", been in serious fear of bodily injury had a right to protect themselves, that right was known as the right of self defense. The "Castle Doctrine" itself has now signified a movement that says that a law abiding citizen has the right to protect themselves, their families and others from intruders and attackers without fear of prosecution of a criminal action or fear of being sued in a civil action so long as they are acting in defense of themselves and others. Formally, one who acted in self defense must have shown that he or she could have retreated and avoided the conflict but now a person attacked is not obliged to retreat from his or her dwelling or place of work unless the person was the in initial aggressor.

The "Castle Doctrine" also presumes that a person under attack has a reasonable belief that deadly force is necessary to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnaping or forcible rape. That is a change in the law where formerly no presumption existed.

In some states the "Castle Doctrine" is also known as the "Make My Day Law". That term arose at the time of the 1985 Colorado Statute that was enacted to protect people from criminal charges or civil suits if they used force, including deadly force against an invader of their home. That law's nickname is a reference to the line "Go ahead, make my day" uttered by actor, Clint Eastwood's character, Harry Callahan in the 1983 film, Sudden Impact, inviting a criminal suspect to make himself liable to deadly retaliation by attacking Callahan.

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Davis & Davis Attorneys at Law

Davis & Davis Attorneys At Law