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Defence against attack

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This site will give you everything you need to know about self defence.

Self defence is really quite simple but there are some parts of the law which will cause you some surprise.

We will set out below in some detail the laws relating to specific situations but, in a nutshell, you are entitled to use reasonable force to protect yourself or another.

You are also permitted to use reasonable force to protect your property but, in many cases involving property, the law of self defence does not allow you to cause any injury or to strike any person. In other words, there is a clear distinction between defending yourself or another personally and defending property,  however valuable.

Sections 48 to 62 of the Crimes Act 1961 are the relevant sections and we set out the full texts of those sections below with some short commentary under each of the sections.

Get to understand the principles well because they are all you need to know about the law of self defence.

Remember, reasonable force is the key provided you do not act out of revenge and provided you do not actually strike someone if you are protecting your property.

Let us turn to each of the sections of the Crimes Act 1961.

48. "Self defence and defence of another - Every one is justified in using, in the defence of himself or another, such force as, in the circumstances as he believes them to be, it is reasonable to use."

The above Section 48 is the important section of the Crimes Act 1961 which deals with self defence. If a person is charged with assault or manslaughter or murder and wishes to raise the defence of self defence then at least three questions are usually asked:-

1. Did the person use force for the purpose of defending himself or herself?

2. What were the overall circumstances as that person believed them to be?

3. Was the force used reasonable?

Every case is judged on its own facts.

However, the Court will look at a numbe

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"Well set out and helpful. I now know just how far you can, and cannot go. I was amazed that you cannot "strike" someone if you are only defending yourself as opposed to your property. Good stuff Netlaw! James W. Auckland May 2006"
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