Generally, when a person’s home is being broken into, they automatically assume that they have the right to fight the intruder and/or assault the intruder because the intruder is trespassing in their home. Unfortunately, the law does not account for homeowners having a right to fight or hurt an intruder, and this mentality is what sees a lot of people experience the Criminal Courts across New South Wales.
So the question then is: what should you do if your house is being broken into?
- Listen carefully so that you can assess where the intruder may be and whether it is safe for you to get out of the house;
- If it is safe to do so, leave the house and go to your neighbours. If you do not feel that it is safe to leave, hide in a safe place inside the house with your family all in the one room and lock the door;
- If you do come into contact with the intruder, comply with their requests; and
- Call the police and report the incident. Wait for the police to attend before you return to your house.
What shouldn’t you do if your house is being broken into?
- Do not approach the intruder;
- *Do not assault the intruder.
- Do not call out and let the intruder know that you are in the house, if it is not safe to leave; and
- Do not tell the intruder that you have called the police.
*If you do assault an intruder, you may face legal implications and be charged. It's difficult to prove that you have acted in self-defence. It is up to the court to determine if you have acted in self-defence based on the evidence provided to them. If you are charged, you can be given up to 5 years imprisonment depending on the decision made by the court
Things to consider before you approach an intruder if you decide not to take the above advice:
- You don’t know who the intruder is;
- You don’t know how many intruder’s there are;
- You don’t know the mental or physical state of the intruder (For example, whether the intruder is under the influence of drugs or alcohol); and
- Whether the intruder is carrying a weapon.
Do not be a hero in these circumstances – you could be placing yourself and/or your family in a very dangerous situation.
You should ensure that you have good measures in place for your home security to limit the chances of having your home invaded. Also note that if an intruder is injured during their attempt to break into your property as a result of a homeowner assaulting them, they may have a right to claim through the civil courts, against the homeowner.
If you have been charged, or need advice in relation to a criminal law matter, please contact our Criminal Law Hotline on 02 8324 7527 to arrange an initial free consultation today.