What Are Your Rights If You Confront an Intruder on Your Property?
Every Christmas, the ‘Home Alone’ movies spark hilarious images of home intruders being caught in all sorts of wacky booby traps.
Most people would say this method of confrontation – or self defence – was both justified and deserved; however, Britain often becomes rifled in debate when we learn that a homeowner faces prosecution for acting out against a home invader. This national outcry only highlights the blurred lines of what is acceptable and what is not when confronting someone who is invading your home. In fact, over half of Brits are unaware of how forceful they can be against an intruder in the eyes of the law. In this article we’re going to outline what the law officially says, and help you understand your rights in a home invasion scenario.
The government states “you can use reasonable force to protect yourself or others if a crime is taking place inside your home.”
There are two elements here to unpack. The first is protecting yourself. You have a right to protect yourself in your own home, and this means you are legally allowed to attack an intruder to prevent them from causing harm to you or your family. This includes physical attacks, such as punches and kicks, and also includes using an object as a weapon. You do not have to wait to be attacked before defending yourself, and can even tackle the intruder to the ground to prevent him from getting away or to make a citizen’s arrest. Proceed cautiously, however; the government strongly suggests the best course of action is to ring the police when you suspect someone has broken into your home. In cases where you are not able to do this, or you feel it is necessary to protect your family and your home, you do have the right to attack the intruder with reasonable force.
This leads on to the next issue: reasonable force. The government states that you can protect yourself using ‘reasonable force’, but goes on to state that “there’s no specific definition of ‘reasonable force’ – it depends on the circumstances. If you only did what you honestly thought was necessary at the time, this would provide strong evidence that you acted within the law.” This can often lead to confusion, as it is ultimately stating that ‘reasonable force’ will vary depending on the circumstances. What is important is to weigh up the potential danger with the amount of force used. If you or your family are in immediate, life-threatening danger than it will likely be justified to use any means necessary to protect yourself and those around you.
Alternatively, if the level of danger is low, it may be deemed unlawful to use grossly disproportionate force in a situation where it wasn’t needed. The main thing to remember is that you are acting on the right to protect yourself, rather than to do harm to the intruder. If you continue using force when you are no longer in any danger, this may lead you to being prosecuted. Though many people feel the intruders in ‘Home Alone’ got what they deserved, setting up traps in your home is actually deemed as grossly disproportionate force, and so following in Kevin’s footsteps may also lead to you getting prosecuted.
It is important to note, however, that the law does take into account the ‘heat of the moment’, and that many people in a frightening situation are not always able to act completely rationally. Consequently, each incident is investigated on an individual basis to determine the exact circumstances and whether the action taken could be deemed to be understandable.
The perspective on reasonable force is unfortunately always going to lead to ambiguities and controversies. At Safe & Secure, our advice is to do your utmost to prevent any home invasions all together. We supply a huge range of safety shutters and doors that have been meticulously designed to provide the highest quality in home protection. For more information, call our friendly team today.