Pa. SSJI (Crim) 9.501D
Pennsylvania Suggested Standard Criminal Jury Instructions
PART TWO– INSTRUCTIONS UNDER THE CRIMES CODE
CHAPTER IX– JUSTIFICATION
9.501D – JUSTIFICATION: USE OF FORCE AGAINST OCCUPIER OR POSSESSOR OF PROPERTY (CASTLE DOCTRINE)
In this part, numbers after the decimal in the instruction number refer to corresponding sections of the Crimes Code
(Effective for cases arising subsequent to August 27, 2011)
1. The evidence in this case presents the question of whether the defendant acted in self-defense when [he] [she] [description of defendant’s conduct]. Self-defense is called “justification” in the law of Pennsylvania. If the defendant’s actions were “justified,” you cannot find [him] [her] guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Since the Commonwealth has the burden of proof in this case, the Commonwealth must prove to you that the defendant did not act in justifiable self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. In general, the law does not permit a defendant to use force against a person who [personally or through another] is using force to protect their occupation or possession of property where a defendant knows that that person is doing so under a claim of right to protect that property. This rule is meant to have parties who have a dispute over who owns a piece of property to allow the court system to resolve the disputed claim.
3. However, a defendant is justified in using force in such a situation if:
(i) the defendant is a public officer acting in the performance of his or her duties or a person lawfully assisting him or her therein or a person making or assisting in a lawful arrest;
(ii) the defendant has been unlawfully dispossessed of the property and is making a reentry or recaption justified by section 507 of title 18 of the Crimes Code [relating to use of force for the protection of property];
(iii) the defendant reasonably believes that such force is necessary to protect himself or herself against death or serious bodily injury.
In order to carry its burden of proof in this case, that the defendant did not act in justifiable self-defense, the Commonwealth must prove that none of these three situations applied in this case.
[The court should then give such additional instructions from Instructions 9.501A and 9.501B above as are warranted by the case.]
Pa. SSJI (Crim) 9.501D