Defending your home, how far would you go?

Main Question or Discussion Point

So you're in bed, here a noise downstairs and decide to investigate. You find it's an intruder. What do you do?

For me, it's simple. My view is if a person enters my home illegally and with intent to rob/kill/damage my family or property. I will take whatever action is necessary to defend them.
I know it's hard to judge what you would do, but given my reaction to past situations much like this, I would confront them and if they failed to leave/tried to attack me I would take appropriate action to deal with the situation, take down the intruder.
As far as I am concerned, the moment a person enters my property they forfiet all rights they have, and any injury sustained to themselves as a direct result of thier/my actions they deserve (yes that includes me killing them if they really tried to fight).

I know in the UK, the law is rubbish and basically says "hide in your room and hope they leave you alone", but would that really be on your mind if your family is in danger? It does say 'you may use reasonable force' to defend yourself, but how do you judge that at 3am, when you've just got up and have no idea of the intentions of the intruder?

So what would you do? What does your countries law let you do?

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You only go as far as necessary to *scare* them away.

I hear way too many people say "oh, I'd get my shot gun and take care of them". I have bad news for that argument, they will throw your a$$in jail if they think you used excessive force. In other words, if the guy has his hands in the air and you blast him away anyways, YOU go to jail. I just saw an article about a guy who had his store robbed. He shot the robber and went to jail becasue he used excessive force. As far as I am concerned, the moment a person enters my property they forfiet all rights they have, and any injury sustained to themselves as a direct result of thier/my actions they deserve (yes that includes me killing them if they really tried to fight). That logic will land you in jail. Mech_Engineer Science Advisor Gold Member I would grab my gun, point it straight at the intruder from a tactically effective distance and inform them they've made a grave error. If they run off, fine; if they freeze and are held at gunpoint until the police arrive I'm ok with that; if they come at me- big mistake. I suspect my wife would show less restraint... :surprised Moonbear Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Gold Member I don't know. I'd be half tempted to point out things to them..."Hey, I really want a new TV, please take that one so I can get the insurance for replacing it." They'd probably leave quickly once realizing there's nothing valuable in my house. What would I really do? Probably not entirely sure unless it actually happens, but if I knew there was an intruder, but hadn't yet been spotted by them, I'd probably just grab the phone and head outside or to a neighbor's house to call the police...if I really had my wits about me (not sure that would be true in the situation) and had the tools nearby without having to go back in the house, I'd probably do something like puncture the tires or cut a hose on the getaway vehicle so they wouldn't be able to get far before being stopped by police if they tried to exit before the cops got here. If I had already come face to face with the intruders, there would probably be a lot of expletive-laden shouting ordering them to get out and telling them what slime they are. So you're in bed, here a noise downstairs and decide to investigate. You find it's an intruder. What do you do? For me, it's simple. My view is if a person enters my home illegally and with intent to rob/kill/damage my family or property. I will take whatever action is necessary to defend them. I know it's hard to judge what you would do, but given my reaction to past situations much like this, I would confront them and if they failed to leave/tried to attack me I would take appropriate action to deal with the situation, take down the intruder. As far as I am concerned, the moment a person enters my property they forfiet all rights they have, and any injury sustained to themselves as a direct result of thier/my actions they deserve (yes that includes me killing them if they really tried to fight). I know in the UK, the law is rubbish and basically says "hide in your room and hope they leave you alone", but would that really be on your mind if your family is in danger? It does say 'you may use reasonable force' to defend yourself, but how do you judge that at 3am, when you've just got up and have no idea of the intentions of the intruder? So what would you do? What does your countries law let you do? While a long shot, how about a wandering Alzheimer's who thinks he entered his own home. At least take a moment to analyze the circumstances before jumping. But I do have some agreement here. Where a criminal has entered your home, if the whole attitude that a community passes around is to submit, I expect an increase in crime and more daring assaults. I suppose the community must find some balance to this. Michigan laws have changed over the past few years. There is no longer excessive force laws when it comes to home invasion. If a person breaks into your home and threatens you with even his bare hands, you now have the right to defend your family and your home, by any means. I would do just that, defend myself by any way possible. Pengwuino Gold Member For me, I'd do the same as your typical police officer would do, point the gun and go from there. If he runs, eh... I probably wouldn't run after him because I don't run fast, but I would if I felt I could catch him. If he has a gun and doesn't drop it or reaches for it, I'm not taking any chances. I think everyone should just have a shotgun and a less-then-lethal (or those intentionally semi-dud shells) first shell. Run to where the person is nearby and just "cock" it once in earshot of the person and they'll probably run immediately. It is an amazingly intimidating sound. If they're just trying to rob you, there's probably a very small chance they want a shootout and be hunted as a murderer. If they're just someone looking for trouble or someone who literally is out to kill you, then at least you're prepared. I don't get why people assume your either the type of person who cowers while someone kills your family or you're the type of person to blow 30 holes into your house trying to kill a little kid that broke your window. BobG Science Advisor Homework Helper I'd slip out the window and call the police from my cell phone. I couldn't care less about defending my home. If I still had kids or a wife at home, it might be a different story. Either way, the best protection is to live in a low crime neighborhood. In fact, that's usually a higher priority than owning a car worth stealing or filling up my house with stuff worth stealing. That tends to limit what you can do to protect your home. You don't need to live in a very expensive neighborhood to get to the point that a gun presents more risk than it does protection. With kids at home, making a lot of noise with a baseball bat would hopefully be enough to scare off intruders. While a long shot, how about a wandering Alzheimer's who thinks he entered his own home. At least take a moment to analyze the circumstances before jumping. Not that big of a long shot if you expand that to include drunk neighbors and landlords that decide to repair your bathroom plumbing in the middle of the night while you're sleeping. I've known two people that wandered into the wrong unit at least slightly inebriated (it was a six-plex and every other unit looked exactly the same). I've only had one landlord that decided to do middle of the night repairs (Since we didn't answer the door, he figured we must be gone?! In the middle of a weeknight?! And then he wondered why we changed the locks and didn't give him a key?!). Last edited: You only go as far as necessary to *scare* them away. I hear way too many people say "oh, I'd get my shot gun and take care of them". I have bad news for that argument, they will throw your a$$ in jail if they think you used excessive force. In other words, if the guy has his hands in the air and you blast him away anyways, YOU go to jail.

I just saw an article about a guy who had his store robbed. He shot the robber and went to jail becasue he used excessive force.

That logic will land you in jail.
That quote about rights is my point of view on things, please also note I also said: "I would confront them and if they failed to leave/tried to attack me I would take appropriate action to deal with the situation, take down the intruder."

I would only respond with violence if that person went for me. If they run then fine. If they freeze, then fine. (I don't own a gun by the way, although there is a nice piece of steel outside my room). I did not say I would mercilesly beat them to a pulp.

Also, if the thief is a knife weilding maniac, intent on robbing you one way or another or even killing your family, what then? I know most intruders would flee at getting caught but there are exceptions.

A wandering alzheimers patient? Doing a good job getting through a locked door. I would have to put it down to circumstances, if they are grasping my 40" LCD TV, I'm probably right in my assumption they are a thief.

I wouldn't chase them, just let them go. I agree pengwuino, why everyone assumes you're either a coward or a gun touting maniac is beyond me.

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A wandering alzheimers patient? Doing a good job getting through a locked door. I would have to put it down to circumstances, if they are grasping my 40" LCD TV, I'm probably right in my assumption they are a thief.
Well, sure. Maybe not necessarily in the middle of the night, but I know a lot of people that don't lock their doors until just before they good to sleep. Besides, BobG's example is further reason not to dive right into anything too hastily.

Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
You only go as far as necessary to *scare* them away.

I hear way too many people say "oh, I'd get my shot gun and take care of them". I have bad news for that argument, they will throw your a in jail if they think you used excessive force. In other words, if the guy has his hands in the air and you blast him away anyways, YOU go to jail.
Not true in all states.

In Florida, you'd probably be safe from any jail time for shooting most anyone in your house in the middle of the night. In Texas, you can shoot someone breaking into your neighbor's property - shoot him in the back, no less - and you probably won't even be indicted; more likely, you'll become a local hero.

[...] I know in the UK, the law is rubbish and basically says "hide in your room and hope they leave you alone", but would that really be on your mind if your family is in danger? [...] What does your countries law let you do?
Boy, you'll love German law:

StGB
Section 32
Self-defence
(1) A person who commits an act in self-defence does not act unlawfully.
(2) Self-defence means any defensive action that is necessary to avert an imminent unlawful attack on oneself or another.

Section 33
Excessive self-defence
A person who exceeds the limits of self-defence out of confusion, fear or terror shall not be held criminally liable.

And the best part is that an unlawful attack may be directed against life, body, freedom, honor or property (Rechtsgüter). Schimpfliche Flucht (disreputable flight) does not ever need to be considered as the righteous needs not yield to injustice.

The catch with killing the intruder is, that you have to prove that you did not have another way to make him leave your house.

When I said I would confront them first, at what point does that say I would just attack them?

If my landlord, in the middle of the night, turns and comes at me in a threatening manner, I'd put him on the floor. If an alzheimers patient, in the middle of the day, comes at me in a threatening manner, I'd try to use a reasonable response to defend my self but if they did prove dangerous I would have no problem with dropping them. A landlord can't just enter your home (well in my house they have to give at least 24 hours notice as per the contract), so they would be intruding.

Obviously, killing an intruder, at least for me is an extreme last resort only to be used if they trully are a threat to myself/families life.

I DO NOT agree with shooting a person in the back, lying in wait for an intruder etc. They must initiate hostility to me, that would be when I judge the threat level. A person running away is no longer a threat.

Not true in all states.

In Florida, you'd probably be safe from any jail time for shooting most anyone in your house in the middle of the night. In Texas, you can shoot someone breaking into your neighbor's property - shoot him in the back, no less - and you probably won't even be indicted; more likely, you'll become a local hero.
Jeezus, what an idiot. He shot someone for stealing a TV. He thinks he's in the wild west.

Jeezus, what an idiot. He shot someone for stealing a TV. He thinks he's in the wild west.
The problem I have with the law (UK anyhow) is that if I break into your house, and decide to munch on some of your fruit, and it's out of date, I can then sue you for poisoning me.

There have been loads of cases where people have broken in and injured themselves and then sued the homeowner successfully. The intruder doesn't even get charged in most cases.
(I'll look for a case or two now). So although I don't agree with shooting someone in the back and the law covering you, I also think it is dreadful the law defends the scum as it does.
Hence, I think people who intentionally break the law should automatically forfiet their rights.

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The problem I have with the law (UK anyhow) is that if I break into your house, and decide to munch on some of your fruit, and it's out of date, I can then sue you for poisoning me.

There have been loads of cases where people have broken in and injured themselves and then sued the homeowner successfully. The intruder doesn't even get charged in most cases.
(I'll look for a case or two now). So although I don't agree with shooting someone in the back and the law covering you, I also think it is dreadful the law defends the scum as it does.
Hence, I think people who intentionally break the law should automatically forfiet their rights.
The same happens in the US for pools. If someone goes onto your property and drowns in your pool it's somehow your fault.

The problem I have with the law (UK anyhow) is that if I break into your house, and decide to munch on some of your fruit, and it's out of date, I can then sue you for poisoning me.

There have been loads of cases where people have broken in and injured themselves and then sued the homeowner successfully. The intruder doesn't even get charged in most cases.
(I'll look for a case or two now). So although I don't agree with shooting someone in the back and the law covering you, I also think it is dreadful the law defends the scum as it does.
Hence, I think people who intentionally break the law should automatically forfiet their rights.
Um, no. You might want to rethink that statement. Officer, stop beating me. I was only going 10 over the speed limit! <club to the face>

Pengwuino
Gold Member
Hence, I think people who intentionally break the law should automatically forfiet their rights.
Speaking of backassward laws, in California (i think it's a state law), if you commit a crime with someone (as in accomplice) and that someone gets killed, you can be charged with murder. Now I'm the last guy to ever defend criminals but there's something really wrong with that law and legal way of thinking. Has anyone heard of this and know how the hell it came about?

Um, no. You might want to rethink that statement.
Why? They come into my house, under their own free will. No one forces them. Why should they be offered protection by the law?

Why? They come into my house, under their own free will. No one forces them. Why should they be offered protection by the law?

When I said I would confront them first, at what point does that say I would just attack them?
At what point did I say that you would attack them? Maybe I missed something here?

Um, no. You might want to rethink that statement. Officer, stop beating me. I was only going 10 over the speed limit! <club to the face>
The driver chose to speed, if said person hits a child and kills them stone dead, why should the law protect them. They chose to speed. Yes, you have to take a bit of reason when looking at this 'forfiet', but by speeding they committed a crime.

I don't understand that statement?

The driver chose to speed, if said person hits a child and kills them stone dead, why should the law protect them. They chose to speed. Yes, you have to take a bit of reason when looking at this 'forfiet', but by speeding they committed a crime.
I think the whole purpose of "innocent until proven guilty" is preferred for suspects. Time and again police do make mistakes. Suspects must have protected rights.

JasonRox
Homework Helper
Gold Member
The driver chose to speed, if said person hits a child and kills them stone dead, why should the law protect them. They chose to speed. Yes, you have to take a bit of reason when looking at this 'forfiet', but by speeding they committed a crime.
I'm just sitting here thankful that jarednjames is not working in the justice system.