Reasonable Force - Defending your Home

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The Criminal Law (Defence and Dwelling) Act 2011 allows for a person to use ‘reasonable force’ in defending their home in order to protect themselves and their property.

The Act states that a person is not obligated to retreat from their home if there is an intruder, but it does not permit them to kill an intruder either.  Essentially this legislation allows reasonable force by people who believe that they need to use it to protect their dwellings from assault, to protect a property, to prevent a crime or to make an arrest. 

The Law no longer requires a homeowner to retreat from a burglar and this also extends to the lands immediately around their dwelling.  In a recent case where this legislation was relied on by the accused person the jury acquitted the Defendant (the accused) on the basis that they believed that the Defendant feared for his safety and lashed out in self-defence.

 It is believed that the Defendants fears were objective and grounded in reality.  In this case, the Defendant reached for the nearest object to him to use to defend himself in his home.  The verdict in that case however did not clarify what type of injury was acceptable to inflict on an intruder. This means that each case where this legislation is going to be relied on into the future will turn on the specific circumstances that resulted in the injury or death to an intruder on a case-by-case basis.