A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

The Casstle bill, expanding the right of self defense, has passed both houses of the General Assembly and will be sent to the Governor for final action.

House Bill 40 passed the Senate Monday by a vote of 45-5. The bill passed the House on April 12 by a vote of 164-37.

House Bill 40 would protect gun owners who act in self-defense by removing the “duty to retreat” clause when an individual is threatened by an attacker in any place that individual has a right to be, including their home or vehicle. The bill would provide important protections against criminal prosecution or civil litigation for those who act in self-defense.

Under House Bill 40, an individual would need to demonstrate a reasonable belief that he or she was in imminent danger in order to use lethal force. The legislation was amended to ensure that the Castle Doctrine applies only to individuals who legally possess a firearm.

The bill also includes tougher penalties for individuals involved in trafficking stolen firearms.

The Criminal Justice Section Student Research Center is open to help you in your court appointed and CJA cases. The hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The SRC, located in Room 303 of the Criminal Justice Center (The Jack Meyer’s lawyer’s lounge), offers free case law research for court appointed and CJA counsel. The research is provided by law students from local area law schools. Attorneys wishing to request research assistance on a court appointed case can do so either by visiting the lawyer’s lounge directly and meeting with a law student in person or they may submit a research request online at http://www.philadelphiabar.org/page/CJResearch?appNum=1. To make sure a law student will be available for your project, first contact the lounge at 3-7538 or 3-7539 (CJC internal only) or phillysrc1@gmail.com to check student availability.

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