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Reasonable force against burglars

Friday January 13,  saw the provisions of the Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act, 2011 come into effect. This law was drafted to clarify the situation pertaining to a home owner defending his or her home from break-in or attack.

The new law recognises the special constitutional status of a person’s dwelling and makes it clear that a person may use reasonable force to defend themselves in their home.

The Act explicitly provides that a person is not under any obligation to retreat from their home when it is subject to an intrusion and provides that a person, who uses reasonable force, as provided for in the Act, cannot be sued for damages by a burglar and will not be guilty of an offence.

There has up to now been a certain amount of confusion about the rights and wrongs of a home owner defending their property, and this Act sets out to clarify the situation. The Act allows for the use of such force as is reasonable in the circumstances, to protect people in the dwelling from assault, to protect property, to prevent the commission of a crime, or to make a lawful arrest.

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Written by Jasmine Woolley