In Illinois, you may use force against someone if you reasonably believe that such force is necessary to stop or end someone’s unlawful entry or attack on your home. (See 720 ILCS 5/7-2.) Further, you may use deadly force to defend your home only if you reasonably believe such force is necessary 1) to prevent a felony, or 2) to prevent violence to yourself or another and the intruder’s entry was violent or riotous.

Contrary to all those stories about burglars suing homeowners, Illinois law does not permit an aggressor to sue you if your use of force was justified. Sometimes, however, the defender may end up as a criminal or civil defendant. In that case, when did defense of a dwelling go too far? The answer depends on the definition of “justified.”

Unlike self-defense, defense of a dwelling does not require danger to life or great bodily harm in order to invoke the right to kill. Nevertheless, both defenses depend on whether the circumstances of your case caused you to reasonable believe that the threatened danger, whether real or apparent, existed. This is a highly fact-specific inquiry which different judges may view very differently. Therefore, if you are charged with battery or murder based on defense of a dwelling, you should look for an attorney who is familiar with your specific judge.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Reference: People v. Wiggins

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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