Legal rights of homeowners to protect themselves if someone breaks and enters

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The prospect of an intruder breaking into your home is a terrifying thought.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Association of Chief Police Officers insist that the first course of action if a burglar breaks into your home should always be to phone the police, but have provided answers on how people can defend themselves legally when this is not the case. possible.

Official government advice states that people don’t have to wait to be attacked and can use “reasonable force” to protect themselves or others if a crime takes place inside your home.

READ MORE:“Burglar” found hidden under car by dog ​​after breaking into house

What is reasonable force?

The exact definition of “reasonable force” is flexible, but the CPS says the law will be on the side of anyone who rightly protects themselves “in the heat of the moment.”

The law says, “As long as you only do what you honestly and instinctively believe is necessary in the heat of the moment, that would be the strongest evidence that you are acting legally and in self-defense.”

This means that the more extreme the circumstances, the more able you will be able to legally use force in self-defense – and may justify the use of a weapon to protect yourself.

This law will still protect homeowners if the intruder dies as a result of your self-defense, as long as the actions can be legally justified as “reasonable.”

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What actions to defend against intruders are against the law?

However, households are warned that the law does not protect them if they are deemed to have used grossly disproportionate force.

This is any “excessive” or “calculated revenge” action.

The CPS says the owners could be prosecuted if they continue to attack the intruder even when they are no longer in danger, or if they plan a trap for someone in advance – rather than involving the intruder. police.

The situation also changes if the intruder tries to escape as the owner is no longer seen as acting in self-defense.

However, the law allows you to stop a fleeing intruder by pinning them to the ground if it is to recover your property or to make a citizen arrest. But the police insist that you must prioritize your own safety in such situations.

What about disproportionate force?

The law states that the force you should use must be reasonable, but something that you may have considered appropriate for the situation at the time may later be found to be disproportionate in court.

The law says they will give you the “benefit of the doubt” in such situations, but only if it would protect you or others in the house. Disproportionate force to protect property is still considered illegal.

How do the police determine what type of self-defense was used?

The police will assess all the facts of the case to determine whether the force of self-defense is reasonable, disproportionate or grossly disproportionate.

Cases involving more serious injuries will take longer as officers will need more time to conduct more detailed investigations into the situation.

The CPS says the law is generally on the owner’s side.

He said: “It is a fact that very few households have ever been prosecuted for actions resulting from the use of force against intruders.”

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