Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (Pa.C.S.)
TITLE 18, CRIMES AND OFFENSES
PART I. PRELIMINARY PROVISIONS
Chapter 5. General Principles of Justification
§ 507. Use of force for the protection of property.
(a) Use of force justifiable for protection of property.–The use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary:
(1) to prevent or terminate an unlawful entry or other trespass upon land or a trespass against or the unlawful carrying away of tangible movable property, if such land or movable property is, or is believed by the actor to be, in his possession or in the possession of another person for whose protection he acts; or
(2) to effect an entry or reentry upon land or to retake tangible movable property, if:
(i) the actor believes that he or the person by whose authority he acts or a person from whom he or such other person derives title was unlawfully dispossessed of such land or movable property and is entitled to possession; and
(A) the force is used immediately or on fresh pursuit after such dispossession; or
(B) the actor believes that the person against whom he uses force has no claim of right to the possession of the property and, in the case of land, the circumstances, as the actor believes them to be, are of such urgency that it would be an exceptional hardship to postpone the entry or reentry until a court order is obtained.
(b) Meaning of possession.–For the purpose of subsection (a) of this section:
(1) A person who has parted with the custody of property to another who refuses to restore it to him is no longer in possession, unless the property is movable and was and still is located on land in his possession.
(2) A person who has been dispossessed of land does not regain possession thereof merely by setting foot thereon.
(3) A person who has a license to use or occupy real property is deemed to be in possession thereof except against the licensor acting under claim of right.
(c) Limitations on justifiable use of force.–
(1) The use of force is justifiable under this section only if the actor first requests the person against whom such force is used to desist from his interference with the property, unless the actor believes that:
(i) such request would be useless;
(ii) it would be dangerous to himself or another person to make the request; or
(iii) substantial harm will be done to the physical condition of the property which is sought to be protected before the request can effectively be made.
(2) The use of force to prevent or terminate a trespass is not justifiable under this section if the actor knows that the exclusion of the trespasser will expose him to substantial danger of serious bodily injury.
(3) The use of force to prevent an entry or reentry upon land or the recaption of movable property is not justifiable under this section, although the actor believes that such reentry or caption is unlawful, if:
(i) the reentry or recaption is made by or on behalf of a person who was actually dispossessed of the property; and
(ii) it is otherwise justifiable under subsection (a)(2).
(i) The use of deadly force is justifiable under this section if:
(A) there has been an entry into the actor’s dwelling;
(B) the actor neither believes nor has reason to believe that the entry is lawful; and
(C) the actor neither believes nor has reason to believe that force less than deadly force would be adequate to terminate the entry.
(ii) If the conditions of justification provided in subparagraph (i) have not been met, the use of deadly force is not justifiable under this section unless the actor believes that:
(A) the person against whom the force is used is attempting to dispossess him of his dwelling otherwise than under a claim of right to its possession; or
(B) such force is necessary to prevent the commission of a felony in the dwelling.
(d) Use of confinement as protective force.–The justification afforded by this section extends to the use of confinement as protective force only if the actor takes all reasonable measures to terminate the confinement as soon as he knows that he can do so with safety to the property, unless the person confined has been arrested on a charge of crime.
(e) Use of device to protect property.–The justification afforded by this section extends to the use of a device for the purpose of protecting property only if:
(1) the device is not designed to cause or known to create a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury;
(2) the use of the particular device to protect the property from entry or trespass is reasonable under the circumstances, as the actor believes them to be; and
(3) the device is one customarily used for such a purpose or reasonable care is taken to make known to probable intruders the fact that it is used.
(f) Use of force to pass wrongful obstructor.–The use of force to pass a person whom the actor believes to be intentionally or knowingly and unjustifiably obstructing the actor from going to a place to which he may lawfully go is justifiable, if:
(1) the actor believes that the person against whom he uses force has no claim of right to obstruct the actor;
(2) the actor is not being obstructed from entry or movement on land which he knows to be in the possession or custody of the person obstructing him, or in the possession or custody of another person by whose authority the obstructor acts, unless the circumstances, as the actor believes them to be, are of such urgency that it would not be reasonable to postpone the entry or movement on such land until a court order is obtained; and
(3) the force used is not greater than it would be justifiable if the person obstructing the actor were using force against him to prevent his passage.