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Defense of property

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The defense of property is a defense generally used in a civil or criminal context regarding property damage cases. Many jurisdictions permit the use of reasonable force to protect their property from theft or damage.

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The defense of property is regarded as an affirmative defense for civil and criminal cases. Generally, the defendant accepts the elements of the crime but argues that their actions were justified or excused based on this defense.[1]

The privilege to defend property is more limited than the privilege of self-defense because our society values human life more than material possessions. Deadly force is generally never justified for the defense of property. In a few jurisdictions, deadly force is permitted to prevent or stop a felony.[2]

The defense of property permits individuals to use a reasonable amount of force to protect their property. Such property can include personal items or real property and jurisdictions differ on the extent of force permissible in defending distinct categories of property. The justifiable use of force must be reasonable and courts have traditionally applied a liberal approach to the use of force to protect one's home.[3]


  1. http://public.findlaw.com/abaflg/flg-15-3d-1.html
  2. http://law.jrank.org/pages/4484/Assault-Battery-Defenses.html
  3. http://www.usacarry.com/forums/new-hampshire-discussion-firearm-news/3495-new-hampshire-deadly-force-laws-well-laws-none-deadly-force.html

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