Defending Yourself in Your Home - Update

Not so long ago we talked to you about the precarious legal position that existed in relation protecting yourself, your family and your possessions in your own home.  In 2004 Padraig Nally was convicted for shooting dead a trespasser who had it seems terrorised him over a long period of time.  There was public outcry at the time and after his convition was overturned there was a move to produce legislation which ended the confusion.

The Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011  came into effect on 13 January 2012 and clarifies the law concerning the defence of the home. It recognises the constitutional status of a person’s dwelling and makes it clear that a person may use reasonable force to defend themselves from intruders unlawfully in their home. It 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 crime, or to make a lawful arrest. The act also extends the protection to the curtilage of the dwelling and explicitly provides that a person is not under an obligation to retreat from their home during an intrusion. It also 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.

The act makes the provision for the following:

  • Definitions for such terms as ‘dwelling’, ‘property’ and the ‘curtilage’ of the dwelling,
  • The extent to which justifiable force may be used against an intruder,
  • That the use of justifiable force against another intruder with criminal intent would not exclude the use of force causing death,
  • The absence of a requirement on the part of an occupier to retreat when defending the dwelling or the people in it against an intruder entering with criminal intent, and
  • That a person who uses such force as is permitted by the act will not be liable in tort in respect of injury, loss or damage arising from such force.

Daragh Hassett has over 10 years experience in advising on criminal law matters and is happy to speak to anyone about this or any other criminal matter.


Ennis Office

9-10 Carmody Street Business Park
Carmody Street
Co. Clare             

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