Hayes, Williams, Turner & Daughtry, P.A.

Can you set traps for people who break into your house?

You move into a new area, and the neighborhood isn't the best. You're worried that someone is going to break into your house, either while you're there or when you're at work. You decide to set traps that can deter them, protecting your assets and your family. Is this legal?

It's not. You could be liable if your traps are set intentionally and then injure people, even if those people should not have been on your property in the first place.

Don't take this the wrong way: Protecting your family is fine. You're allowed to do that and you can take steps to do it on your own if someone breaks in and threatens your life.

However, there is a difference between reacting to something that happens to protect yourself and setting up a trap in advance, based on speculation.

Plus, there's always the risk that setting a trap could injure the wrong person. What if your neighbor drops by to see if you're home? What if your son or daughter comes home early from school? What if you forgot about a delivery and the delivery man opens the door to put the package inside? What if the police come by and legally enter your home with a warrant? There are countless ways for these traps to injure the wrong people.

On the other side of the coin, maybe you were hurt by something a homeowner set up intentionally to cause injury. You were accidentally in the wrong place and now you're facing high medical costs, serious pain and lasting disfigurement. If so, you need to know if you have a right to financial compensation.

Source: Protect America, "Why You Shouldn’t Set Traps for Burglars," accessed April 27, 2017

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