Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (Pa.C.S.)



Chapter 5.  General Principles of Justification

§ 501.  Definitions.

Subject to additional definitions contained in subsequent provisions of this chapter which are applicable to specific provisions of this chapter, the following words and phrases, when used in this chapter shall have, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the meanings given to them in this section:

“Believes” or “belief.”  Means “reasonably believes” or “reasonable belief.”

“Correctional institution.”  Any penal institution, penitentiary, State farm, reformatory, prison, jail, house of correction, or other institution for the incarceration or custody of persons under sentence for offenses or awaiting trial or sentence for offenses.

“Corrections officer.”  A full-time employee assigned to the Department of Corrections whose principal duty is the care, custody and control of inmates of a penal or correctional institution operated by the Department of Corrections.

“Deadly force.”  Force which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.

“Dwelling.”  Any building or structure, including any attached porch, deck or patio, though movable or temporary, or a portion thereof, which is for the time being the home or place of lodging of the actor.

“Peace officer.”  Any person who by virtue of his office or public employment is vested by law with a duty to maintain public order or to make arrests for offenses, whether that duty extends to all offenses or is limited to specific offenses, or any person on active State duty pursuant to 51 Pa.C.S. § 508 (relating to active duty for emergency). The term “peace officer” shall also include any member of any park police department of any county of the third class.

“Residence.”  A dwelling in which a person resides, either temporarily or permanently, or visits as an invited guest.

“Unlawful force.”  Force, including confinement, which is employed without the consent of the person against whom it is directed and the employment of which constitutes an offense or actionable tort or would constitute such offense or tort except for a defense (such as the absence of intent, negligence, or mental capacity; duress; youth; or diplomatic status) not amounting to a privilege to use the force. Assent constitutes consent, within the meaning of this section, whether or not it otherwise is legally effective, except assent to the infliction of death or serious bodily injury.

“Vehicle.”  A conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, that is designed to transport people or property.