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Your Legal Rights During a Home Invasion

— February 16, 2022

Unless there is intent to harm or kill you or any other person in the home, you don’t have any right to kill the intruder.

I’m only 5’ 3” tall and live in one of Arizona’s most dangerous cities. I started to take the security and safety of my family more seriously after having a bad experience (which I prefer not to discuss). However, my quest for safety helped me learn what one’s legal rights are during a home invasion. This article should help you do the same.

With crime being on the rise in at least some parts of the world, you must know your rights when it comes to a home invasion. While this might not happen to every person, the dangers of a home invasion are always prevalent and you will need to be prepared. 

In most home invasion situations, fighting back is never recommended. However, in many situations, you are left with no choice but to fight back and protect yourself. Should you be unfortunate and find yourself in such a situation, you will need to be prepared and if you understand the rights you have, you should be fine.

How to Have a Firm Grip on One’s Legal Rights During a Home Invasion?

During a home invasion, the best course of action is to comply with the intruders. Unfortunately, you don’t have “free reign” to take a life or attack an intruder. The only time when you can take a life is when your own life is threatened and you have no alternative, or when the intruder tries to kill or threatens to kill someone in the home.

Understanding when someone is trying to attack or kill you is important before taking action. It is far better to simply comply with the intruders if they don’t intend to do any harm. However, it is often a grey area as we don’t always know the intent of the attacker. If the intruder is armed, it should make your case much better when defending yourself.

What Would Be the Appropriate Amount of Force One May Use Against an Intruder?

If you find someone entering your home in a home invasion, the amount of force is something that people often forget to think about. However, the force you use should be proportionate to the threat that is presented. This means that if the person is not armed and only breaks into your home, you cannot kill them. There are four important things to keep in mind before taking any action:

  • Is there a weapon present
  • Number and the size of the threats
  • Ability and size of the homeowner
  • Intent, which might be to kill or harm you or other people in the home

The fact of the matter is that as a homeowner, you will need to justify your actions. A great question to ask is; “Can I convince 12 jurors and justify my actions?” You should consider asking this question before you make any decisions on the actions you are taking. It is often recommended that you only resort to force as a last resort to protect your life or the life of others.

Common Myths You Shouldn’t Believe In

There are a couple of myths running around many forums that pertain to self-defense when you are dealing with a home invasion. Once you understand which of these myths are false, you should be able to make much better decisions about the outcome. You should be able to avoid some of these myths.

  • You Can Shoot Someone to Protect Your Property

Unfortunately, this is not true and you cannot simply shoot someone looking to steal your property. Unless there is intent to harm or kill you or any other person in the home, you don’t have any right to kill the intruder. Renting an apartment can also affect the decisions you make.

  • You Can Attack the Intruder

Unfortunately, you cannot simply attack the intruder. There is a duty to retreat law, which means that you first need to retreat to a safe area. Once you have retreated to an area and you have your back against the wall, you are allowed to retaliate. Once again, you can retaliate, but not attack the intruder. [Editor’s note: Check with your local law enforcement agency to determine if your state has a Duty to Retreat law. Not all states have such laws.]

Woman aiming gun; image by Pexels, via
Woman aiming gun; image by Pexels, via

Big Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make in a Home Invasion

There are a couple of important things that you should avoid doing when you are in the middle of a home invasion. Some of these things could cost you or other people in the home their lives. Here are some of the big mistakes that you should avoid ensuring that you don’t aggravate the situation of the home invasion.

  • Fighting the intruder
  • Killing them without checking if they are armed
  • Not complying with their demands
  • Risking your life to be a hero
  • Not having access to any emergency services
  • Not dialing “911” ASAP


During a home invasion, tension is high and not only might you be stressed, but the attacker is also stressed. You mustn’t aggravate them and try to comply to get it over with. However, if you believe your life and the life of the people in your home are at risk, you can retaliate. Let us know in the comment section how you plan to deal with home invasions.


  • Defense, C. and Crimes, T., 2021. Home Invasion | Boston Crime Defense Lawyer Patrick J. Murphy. [online] Available at: <,of%20the%20home%20invasion%20statute.> [Accessed 18 November 2021].
  • 2021. States With Stand Your Ground Laws 2021. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18 November 2021].

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