Protecting A Home By Force

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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A person's home is generally the biggest investment of their lives, plus the focal point of a his/her family.  As such, most homeowners will try to protect their home from trespassers, criminals, or other people who threaten the home or its occupants.  In certain cases, it is possible for a person to protect their home through the use of force.

When Can Someone Protect Their Home By Force?

A person is justified in using force toward another person in the protection of their home if:

  1. The force is immediately necessary,
  2. The force would prevent or stop another person's actions, and
  3. The other person's actions were illegal.

There is no bright-line rule about the amount of force that a person can use to protect their home.  It must generally be proportionate to the action of the person threatening the home or its occupants.

For example, if person X is illegally, but innocently trespassing near person A's home, it would not be acceptable for person A to come after person X with a baseball bat and hit him on the head.  On the other hand, if person X was attempting to burglarize person A's home, such force would generally be appropriate.

When Can Someone Use Deadly Force to Protect Their Home?

The use of deadly force to protect a person's home is a controversial issue.  Deadly force is any amount of force hat is intended or is likely to cause death or great bodily injury.  That can include the use of a firearm, or even a person's bare fists in some situations.  Some states have created special laws to deal with the issue.  They are called "Make My Day" or "Stand Your Ground" laws.  Generally speaking, a person is allowed to use deadly force to protect their home if:

  1. Another person is, or was attempting arson, burglary, robbery, or another felony,
  2. The use of deadly force is immediately necessary because of a genuine fear for the safety of the home or its inhabitants,
  3. The use of deadly force would prevent or stop the other person's criminal activity, and
  4. The use of non-deadly force would put the homeowner at risk of serious bodily harm.

Do I Need an Attorney if I Protected A Home By Force?

If you have used force to protect your home and are now being charged with a crime in connection to that force, or you have questions about your right to protect your home by force, it is strongly recommended that you contact a criminal defense or property attorney.  Only an attorney will be able to explain the relevant issues and help defend your rights.

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Last Modified: 09-27-2012 03:21 PM PDT

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