To be scared of not using reasonable force

(39 Posts)
WalkingBlind Sat 17-Sep-16 00:19:47

In an emergency situation. Im horrified by stories of people getting mugged/raped/burgled and counter-attacking the perpetrator just to end up locked up themselves.

I have really high anxiety so the scenario of being burgled goes through my mind a lot. I was physically abused most of my life from childhood to late teens and don't respond rationally to danger. If I'm in a "fight or flight" situation I can be unpredictable like im sure many others would be. But my experience is that I won't consider at the time what I'm doing.

For example if someone broke in and was going for the baby, I'd probably not think twice about grabbing my hockey stick from school or a knife or anything at all to protect them.

I actually sit and wonder what household objects I can claim "I just grabbed the closest thing to me" with

AIBU in thinking we shouldn't be punishing the people who are being attacked to the point where we fear defending ourselves confused

I'm with you OP, I plan for various unlikely scenarios in my head, and have a well developed Zombie Outbreak Response plan in place "just in case" blush It makes me feel better somehow.
I always say that if someone broke into my house, I would do my best to kill the fucker then bury them in the garden and forget they were ever here. How many burglars would tell anyone where they were going? How would anyone know to ask me?
I would be all "break in? No. We haven't had a break in" and since I am fat and old and look feeble, they would believe me!

Do many people really get locked up for using reasonable force? I know the DM loves these stories but it's very rare.

A neighbour of mine hit a burglar, stunned him then say in him until the police arrived! He wasn't arrested....he said the police couldn't have been nicer.

Sorry should say sat on him blush

Reasonable force means not continuing to attack the burglar after they are subdued- so if you proceeded to beat them to death with your hockey stick after knocking them unconscious, that would be unreasonable. Or shooting them in the back as they were running away, which is why the farmer you're probably thinking of went to prison. But knocking them unconscious if they were going for your baby would certainly be justified!

That said, a burglar wouldn't want your baby as they're there for valuables not kidnap or murder. If they think they've been discovered, their priority is to get out quickly, not to start disposing of the witnesses. So try not to worry about that particular scenario (far easier said than done, I know). Also, if you did 'overdo' the self defense, I've no doubt your past would be taken into account in any proceedings.

NickyEds Sat 17-Sep-16 07:16:42

I can't recall any case of a victim having being sent down defending themselves? If you were home alone with a baby and someone broke in, in the middle of the night, you cried out that you'd heard them and had a weapon, called the police and they didn't scarper (which they almost certainly woukd), you hit them with a hockey stick once and then died of that hit, you still wouldn't go to jail. If you hit them with the hockey stick, tied them up then proceeded to beat them to death then you would. Reasonable force takes into account that you are frightened and in the right.

phillipp Sat 17-Sep-16 07:19:02

In all honesty I have a few well placed household items incase of intruder.

However, if this is worrying you to the point it's preying on your mind, perhaps you need to tackle that. Have you ever sought help for your anxiety.

Personally I do think people should be locked up for using unreasonable force. As op said unreasonable force would be if a burglar came in and you disturbed them, they tried to run away and you chased them and stabbed them in the back. Or they didn't run away and you subdued them, they were unconscious and you continued to beat them with your hockey stick.

Has anyone actually been locked up in recent years for this?

Or has there been any cases where children have been taken or harmed in their beds by a burglar?

acasualobserver Sat 17-Sep-16 07:19:52

Im horrified by stories of people getting mugged/raped/burgled and counter-attacking the perpetrator just to end up locked up themselves.

Can you give some examples?

JudyCoolibar Sat 17-Sep-16 07:21:26

Papers like the Mail really scaremonger about this. The law takes a very realistic view, and fully takes into account that someone who is scared and shocked isn't in a position to weight up precisely what the correct level of force is. I think we do need to retain the option of prosecution for the Tony Martins of this world.

travellinglighter Sat 17-Sep-16 07:22:52

I wouldn't worry too much about it. If someone breaks in and you have children in the house or even if you are female and alone then you almost definitely won't face charges unless you have set traps and blast them with an illegally owned shotgun.

The police and cps aren't really looking to prosecute otherwise law abiding citizens who lash out at times of high stress but they need homeowners to have a sense of proportion. If you wear your window frames to the mains then you could be in trouble.

topcat2014 Sat 17-Sep-16 07:25:57

Keeping a baseball bat by the bed for the intention of hitting people with is viewed differently from grabbing a baseball bat that is kept in the hallway in the heat of the moment - AFAIK.

flanjabelle Sat 17-Sep-16 07:25:59

I don't give a flying monkey what is considered reasonable force. I have a baseball bat, an iron bar and other such items, hidden but easily available and would batter an intruder until they were no threat any more. I would not give a damn about the consequences at the time. In my mind that is reasonable force. Stopping the intruder from being a threat.

flanjabelle Sat 17-Sep-16 07:28:20

Topcat why should it be? The only person who is likely to be hit with said baseball bat is someone who is breaking into your home. Why shouldn't someone be armed against that threat?

Heru Sat 17-Sep-16 07:34:20

I have received self defense training from the police and that included a section which pretty much said that if you are in fear of being attacked you can pick up just about anything and hit your attacker with it. The PP above is right that you cannot continue to hit someone after you are safe or chase after them down the street.
When the police show up to a dead or badly injured person then they have to investigate properly which usually means you will be taken in for questioning, or even arrested. Most of these stories get into the papers but they rarely publish the story where the charges are dropped because it isn't as sensational. Most self-defense cases go nowhere near prosecution.
Self-defense laws also cover protecting other people who are in danger by the way.

phillipp Sat 17-Sep-16 07:37:11

Because it's not an object but you have it with the intention to use it as a weapon. So it's use is changed to a weapon.

I am part of a knife/axe throwing club. If I am stopped on my way and my knives are in the boot of the car and the police find them, I have proof that I am carrying them for a reason. If I have them in the car not going to the club I have no reason to carry them. So I am not allowed them in the car.

The purpose you have something for is important. But it's very blurred.
If you happen to store your baseball bat under your bed or On Your wardrobe, because that's where you have room for it, it's different. Dbro bought one in the US as an ornament, never used it and had it on display in his bedroom. He never intended to use on it anyone but I am sure he would to protect his family. But the intention isn't to have a weapon to hand.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Sat 17-Sep-16 07:37:23

And yet...
Years ago, when my mum had her bag stolen from the front seat of her car as she was loading the boot, she managed to grab hold of the youth's t-shirt as he passed. He tore free and escaped in the car with his mate, but when she told the police about it they appeared more interested in her "assault" on him than his theft of her bag!
Nothing came of it, but it was definitely an odd reversal of a seemingly obvious situation.

FasterThanASnakeAndAMongoose Sat 17-Sep-16 07:52:09

My uncle is a big muscular chap (rugby player). Years ago someone broke into his house. He jumped over the banisters and landed on one of the fuckers. He was so angry that he beat him up for longer than was strictly necessary as my aunt chased the other one down the street

When the police came my uncle was so full of adrenaline that he ranted to the police about how many times he'd punched the guy.

The police officer said something like "I think you said you hit him just twice sir, and then restrained him as necessary until we arrived." grin

Losingtheplod Sat 17-Sep-16 08:17:17

Is your home reasonably secure? As long as you have decent doors and windows, and they are usually locked, the chances of anyone breaking in are tiny. The chances of anyone breaking in and actually threatening you and your family are even more remote. If that did ever happen, the likelihood that you, as a female are strong enough to inflict a serious injury on the intruder, is just about impossible.

I know anxiety is not rational, but you really are worrying over something that will almost certainly never happen.

WalkingBlind Sat 17-Sep-16 08:31:13

Yes I think I likely have been scarmongered by news of 'arrests' that haven't been charged now I look it up online blush

All the information on here has actually been really helpful thanks

I think I might just watch too much TV and think 'oh god what if someone did that here' you know when they break in with the intention of causing harm rather than necessarily stealing anything.

I know the chances are slim but a few things with slim chances have happened to me so I like to try and be prepared. Does anyone know what would happen if you were in the kitchen when someone intruded so grabbed a knife? That's very much a weapon not sure how you explain

Same with the hockey stick I haven't used it in years so I just panic I'll get treated as if I've left it out to use purposely as a weapon (in reality I'm just a hoarder who doesn't put things in the attic lol)

People usually say "grab a lamp or a vase" because they're not obvious weapons but they don't look like good ones either blush

It's quite normal to have knives in the kitchen and you wouldn't have them to hand specifically to use as a weapon so you'd be fine in that sense. That said, using a weapon like that can escalate the situation (if the intruder has a knife, they are far more likely to use it if you have one) and also can only be used close up, so you'd probably be better keeping an emergency rolling pin on the worktop!

I think that basically something that has a primary use that's not defensive- like a kitchen knife or a hockey stick- is not going to be considered a premeditated weapon. A gun or switchblade would be as they can't be used for anything except attack or defence.

WalkingBlind Sat 17-Sep-16 08:41:48

I like the rolling pin idea more! Don't think I could stab someone to be honest, not unless it was life or death

topcat2014 Sat 17-Sep-16 08:46:51

But, going back to my earlier (and others) comment - kitchen knife used whilst in kitchen = ok. Kitchen knife used which is kept by the bed = not ok, as that suggests a level of pre-meditation, which is not self defence.

ladylanky Sat 17-Sep-16 08:57:27

My granddad broke a lads arm who was burgling hid house. He woke to find him in his dining room and gran him and held him until the police arrived.
He was in the navy as a younger man and he was a 6ft 5 giant of a man. He used some sort of navy hold but the lad was skinny and he broke his arm. My granddad was mortified and the police had to investigate but no chargers were brought. That made the paper - "pensioner facing jail for assaulting intruder" sort of thing. The police were lovely and very apologetic but he did break an arm! As I happens he's a strong man and he acted in the heat of the moment, had he chased him down the street then him broke his arm he would've been charged with assault.
It's also worth baring in mind that not only is keeping something handy to use as a weapon leaving yourself open to using unreasonable force but it's also putting yourself and your family in more danger. Not only are you more likely to be assaulted with your own weapon than to use it on the intruder (they're nasty to rags and you're not for a start) but it's not uncommon for people who live in this state of fear with weapons lying around to accidentally use them on their partners or teenage children etc

VeryBitchyRestingFace Sat 17-Sep-16 09:38:36

I'm not aware of many cases, the farmer chap Tony Martin was probably the most famous. That was a difficult case. I believe he shot the young lad in the process of escaping.

You can have as many objects strategically placed to batter a burglar/would-be-assassin as you like.

Most burglars are male. My feeling is that the chances of the average female, hockey stick or no hockey stick, being able to take down an adult male, are slim to none. sad

In the case of a burglar, a better strategy would surely be to let them take what they want, don't antagonise them and for God's sake, don't try to hit them with a heavy object.

Unless your surname is Lindenburg, they'll have no interest in your baby.

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