Pennsylvania: Can I Use Force Against Someone Burglarizing My Car?

Law Shield Member Ambassador Sherry Hale:

Welcome members and fellow gun owners. In the last Members Voice video, our member Tyler witnessed a criminal breaking into his car. Tyler drew his gun and the bad guys ran away.

The legal questions started pouring in, and members, you wanted to know your legal rights in your state. So here’s your U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney to give you insight on what the law says.

U.S. Law Shield of Pennsylvania Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane:

It’s the middle of the night, and all of a sudden, you hear crashing glass. You come to your fully awake state, and you think: “Did the dog knock over something?” You start looking around, and all of a sudden you notice that there’s some scumbag that broke your window. It’s looking to get in your car, that’s in your driveway, and you have an unattached driveway, meaning it’s a little bit away from the house.

Oh man. They picked the wrong person, right?

Boss. Stop.

Know the law in Pennsylvania. Now it’s a different story if they broke into your garage, or even if your garage door was open, and they broke into your car, because that follows under the Castle Doctrine. We have a whole video that talks about the Castle Doctrine, and what that means. If you’re inside your car when they’re breaking in, that also falls under the Castle Doctrine, and take a look at that video.

What I’m talking about is your unattached driveway, that’s a little bit further away, and it’s parked there. That doesn’t fall under the Castle Doctrine.

What can you do? You can take video of it. Call 9-1-1. Wait for the police to respond. You can confront the person with words. You can sit there and you can say “Stop what you’re doing!” And that might be enough to provoke that startle reflex, and they go running away.

Or it might provoke them to take armed aggression towards you if they have any sort of weapon. So you have to be situationally aware of all these things, and think them out in your mind and because there’s so many permutations and variable.

But if they’re just simply breaking in, you cannot draw down on them with your AR and start shooting. That’s going to be a crime under that scenario. And if it changes where they take an aggressive posture, where they start charging at you, or something like that, that’s totally different, totally different.

But when it comes to just a simple break into your car, that’s so offensive, you cannot take the law in your own hands and it is not the death penalty that you’re allowed to unleash upon that scumbag. That’s the law in Pennsylvania.

Law Shield Member Ambassador Sherry Hale:

Educating you is the cornerstone of U.S. Law Shield. Thank you for being a part of our family.

 

5 comments on “Pennsylvania: Can I Use Force Against Someone Burglarizing My Car?

  • Barry Dougherty says:

    What if it’s an attached driveway, to both house and garage?
    This is what I have on my property.

    • U.S. & Texas LawShield Admin says:

      Hi Barry. Thanks for your question! Please see the following response from Justin McShane, one of our Independent Program Attorneys in Pennsylvania.

      “The statute for the Castle Doctrine can be found in Section 505 of the Crimes Code. For a great overview of the Castle Doctrine, please consider this blog post that we authored: https://www.pennlago.com/justified-part-3-castle-doctrine-stand-ground/ As you can read there, the Castle Doctrine does extend beyond the four corners of the house itself, by how much is entirely fact dependent. Remember, the Castle Doctrine does not give one permission to threaten, attempt to use or use deadly force to simple trespassers. All of the traditional elements of lethal self-defense must still be there. All the Castle Doctrine does is give the rebuttable presumption of reasonableness in one’s actions.”

  • Heather Stala says:

    I understand that in this case we are more than likely talking about “normal” straight driveways. I do however have a horse shoe driveway and one car is parked about 10 feet or less from the entry point and the other is about 20 feet from the entry point with a non-raised deck in the way partially. The 20 feet is car door to entry door as is the 10 foot measurement. the only difference is there is no deck of any kind with the 10 foot measurement and the blacktop is right to the door. The black top is right to the deck as well. Deck entry point to door is about 6 feet. So the question is: Does this change the law in my case or is it the same or is it different depending on entryway? I know I am not the only one in this situation. Is this even considered a detached driveway or is considered and attached driveway and thus covered under castle doctrine? I ask you to please clarify this for me.

    • U.S. & Texas LawShield Admin says:

      Hi Heather. Thanks for your question! Please see the response below from Pennsylvania Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane.

      “The statute for the Castle Doctrine can be found in Section 505 of the Crimes Code. For a great overview of the Castle Doctrine, please consider this blog post that we authored: https://www.pennlago.com/justified-part-3-castle-doctrine-stand-ground/ As you can read there, the Castle Doctrine does extend beyond the four corners of the house itself, by how much is entirely fact dependent. Remember, the Castle Doctrine does not give one permission to threaten, attempt to use or use deadly force to simple trespassers. All of the traditional elements of lethal self-defense must still be there. All the Castle Doctrine does is give the rebuttable presumption of reasonableness in one’s actions.”

  • Ron Vogle says:

    Another case that proves that the Law covers the criminal, not the person being vandalized!

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