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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk TV - The Castle Doctrine

Written by Nell McCormack Abom | Oct 4, 2012 7:33 AM

Burglary.JPGCrime, especially the recent uptick in home burglaries and muggings in Central PA, keeps many of us on edge about our personal security. Dauphin County Judge John Cherry raised eyebrows in August when he seemed to encourage Harrisburg residents to literally fight back against criminals on the streets. Gov. Tom Corbett signed a tough new “Castle Doctrine” law that expands our right to use deadly force when confronted with a dangerous perpetrator. So, is it the Wild West on the streets of our communities? What are our rights when it comes to self defense?  Join the conversation tonight at 8 on Smart Talk by calling in live to 1-800-729-7532, emailing, posting a comment below or to Facebook and Twitter.

Our guests are Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold and Harrisburg Bureau of Police Capt. Annette Oates who supervises the uniformed patrol officers in the city.  Under Pennsylvania’s version of the Castle Doctrine, you no longer have to retreat before using deadly force as long as you are in a place that you are legally permitted to be.  The law extends from your home to your car, a public street, a shopping mall ... virtually anyplace in which you have the right to be.  Pennsylvania's law further stipulates that you must believe that deadly force is necessary to protect you from death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping, or forcible or threatened sexual intercourse.

After a deadly home-invasion burglary in August, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said it is time to toughen criminal penalties for serial burglars. Douglas C. Herr responded to the sound of armed men storming his Drumore Township house by firing his rifle. The three assailants allegedly killed him in a shootout and fled with more than $200,000 in cash from his safe. D.A. Stedman wants lawmakers to impose mandatory sentences on convicted burglars and told the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, "The law needs to show criminals that our homes are our castles."  The Herr murder is a tragic example of what can happen when strangers enter our homes uninvited. Many midstate communities have dealt recently with robbery and burglary sprees. It is a sign both of the tough financial times and the effects of drug addiction and addicts' need for quick cash.

During sentencing for a man convicted of trying to rob a state senator on the streets of Harrisburg last summer, Judge John Cherry warned that some robber is going to get "blown away" by a victim.  And he added that he "is going to be the first in line to shake their hand."  Was that an invitation to vigilantes or just a recognition of the power of Pennsylvania's new Castle Doctrine?  Be sure to tell us what you think.

Capt. Oates will share some practical tips about how to protect yourself on the street and in your home to minimize the risk of personal injury in a violent confrontation.

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