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.


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