In Pennsylvania, charges of assault are taken very seriously. But not every case of assault is as straightforward as it may initially seem. For example, what if you injure someone, but they attacked you first? What if they broke onto your property with the intent to harm or steal from you or your family? This is where the Castle Doctrine comes into play.

CBS Pittsburgh takes a look at Pennsylvania’s “stand your ground” law, part of what is known in the state as the Castle Doctrine. This doctrine essentially gives the go-ahead to use potentially deadly force in the event that you must defend your home against an intruder. This doctrine can also extend to certain other specified areas, such as your personal vehicle.

A provision was also added to it, called “stand your ground”. Under this addition, someone in a lawful place even outside of their own home doesn’t have a duty to retreat and may instead use potentially deadly force. Situations in which force may be used include if you must use it to protect yourself from death, kidnapping, serious bodily injury, or sexual intercourse by threat or by force. However, the assailant in question must have a lethal weapon in order for you to exert this right.

These are just a couple of the circumstances in which you may be able to use force that might otherwise be classified as assault in order to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your home or other personal space safe. Being familiar with stand your ground laws and the Castle Doctrine can be important in self-defense cases.