The following is a video transcript.
Picture this: you’re at home and hear a noise just outside. You look out your window and see a hooded figure at your car, just before it breaks your driver’s side window. So what do we do? What does Pennsylvania law say about protecting your possessions, like your car, from a criminal who’s on your property?
Use of Deadly Force
The first thing we need to understand is that deadly force is generally not justified to protect property alone. I’d go as far as to say that the Pennsylvania laws dealing with deadly force to protect property are misnamed, because the circumstances they cover would really be protecting someone’s well-being rather than property alone.
In this scenario, with the criminal about to break into your car, unless there’s someone in that car and it’s the only way to prevent an imminent kidnapping, or the bad guy’s about to hit the person in the car in the head with his crowbar, which would cause death or serious bodily injury; deadly force would not be justified.
Use of Force
Legally, the use of force—plain old force, not deadly force—could be justified to protect property so long as it’s necessary and proportional. But in this scenario, it’s probably a bad idea. What are you getting yourself into by starting a fist fight with a bad guy? Chances are it will only escalate the situation. And the odds are the bad guy will have a bogus version of the events for the police. Is it worth getting charged with a crime or sued in court, or running the risk of physical injury?
I know he’s on your property, and I know you worked hard to pay for that car, but your well-being, your liberty, and your status as a law-abiding citizen don’t have replacement value. Stay in a safe place, call the police, and report the crime.
For more information about your legal rights and protecting your property, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney.
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