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You Cannot Defend Your Home With Traps

You Cannot Defend Your Home With TrapsThere’s the old saying that “a man’s home is his castle,” which is just a fancy way of saying that when you own your own home, you have certain legal rights as a homeowner that the law will observe and use to protect you. People cannot just come into your home without permission, or ignore your requests to leave, should you make them. People cannot break into your home with the intent to take your belongings for themselves, or to harm or injure yourself or other residents.

America in general, and Florida in particular, have very well-defined legal protections in place for people who are simply trying to maintain the sanctity of their own home, or defend themselves from people who would intrude on their homes. Florida’s “stand your ground law” is an example of this, where, if you are in your home, and find yourself experiencing a home invasion, there is, in the eyes of the law, reasonable cause for you to use a legally acquired firearm to defend yourself.

However, even the stand your ground law has limits, and while it is understood that you have a legal right to defend yourself and repel trespassers, that does not mean that the law grants homeowners the ability to indiscriminately harm or kill anyone that trespasses. And that means that traps, especially ones with injurious or lethal intent, are illegal.


You Are Liable


If you have a swimming pool that trespassers occasionally use, or you have a treehouse that children from the neighborhood sometimes climb into to play in, this is a whole other legal matter compared to someone breaking into your home. And while the American legal system understands that you have the right to remove trespassers, or even call the police and have these people charged for trespassing, that does not mean that the law gives you the right to deliberately harm them.

For example, if you have a treehouse that you’ve built for your children, and you suspect that other children in the neighborhood may be sneaking into your yard and climbing the tree to use the treehouse, that is definitely illegal. However, these are minors, and they are not yet fully cognizant of the legal ramifications of what they are doing, especially if they are very young.

This means that if you put up signs on your property to indicate “No trespassing,” and erect barriers that they must overcome, such as climbing a fence, and they still insist on trespassing, you do have certain legal rights. If you catch the children trespassing, you can call the police the lay charges. Or if you have security camera footage where they are clearly identified, once again, you can bring the matter to both their parents and the law. If it continues to persist, you may even be able to go to court.

But if you decide to aggressively defend your property with the intent to harm, especially if it is against children, you are on the wrong side of the law, even if the children are trespassing. For example, setting up sharp objects on the ladder to the treehouse so the children cut themselves, or, worse yet, attaching a shotgun to the door of the treehouse, so that it fires upon whoever opens it are not considered a legal means of defending your property.

So in these cases, while the law obviously understands that the children were trespassing, and should not have been there, your efforts at home defense may result in injury or even death. That is ultimately considered a bigger violation of the law than children trying to get into a treehouse that doesn’t belong to them.


Burglars Are Protected Too


This doesn’t just apply to children. Even a burglar may hold you liable for personal injury if your home defense is designed with lethal intent. Traps involving the use of guns, explosives, spikes, traps nails and other lethal devices are all strictly, legally prohibited from home defense use. If you use these traps in conjunction with certain lures, such as disguising a trap in a jewelry box, in order to lure a thief into opening it, this not only is against the law, but may actually fall in violation of the Geneva Conventions that were written to define war crimes.

You have the legal right to deter intruders. You also have the legal right to defend yourself and your family from intruders in the even that they are attempting to harm you. However, when a person, be it an adult or a child is on your property, without your express invitation, you do not have a legal right to harm or kill them through the use of defensive measures like booby traps. If you do, you may find yourself answering to a court for premises liability, among other charges.