The homicide and home invasion case in Weyburn recently has raised the issue of how much people can do in the case their home is invaded.
Ladouceur couldn’t speak directly about the Weyburn case but he said there are some grey areas when it comes to defending one’s property when someone enters your home by force.
“Essentially it’s always a question… of what is a homeowners right, if somebody invades that space,” Ladouceur said. “A person can use as much force as necessary to protect themselves. And that’s the key: measuring as much force as necessary.”
And it’s taken on a case by case basis, as each home invasion case is different.
“Obviously it’s going to be a bit of a stretch where if somebody enters your house and is half the size that you are, and all of a sudden you start shooting or stabbing them, obviously there’s going to be questions raised, and rightly so,” said Ladouceur. “We’re not the same as some of the U.S. states where there’s an automatic right to discharge a firearm when someone comes into your residence.”
He said the reason for that is that the optics of someone invading your house if they are highly intoxicated and just at the wrong house or the wrong apartment, then that becomes a concern if someone starts shooting at this person. But change the situation and the case changes significantly.
“If someone is twice the size of you and they come charging at you with a knife or an edged weapon, and you end up either stabbing or shooting at them, your case is much better for self-defence,” Ladouceur said. “Is that force reasonable given the situation?”
The reason the law is purposely grey is because each situation is different, he said. Most cases where the force appears to be excessive, they’ll bring the case to the courts and ultimately the courts will decide if the force was reasonable or not.
“Again, the key factor that comes in to play in these situations is what was the person feeling in their mind at that time,” Ladouceur said. “Were they in true fear of their life? Is this a case where the person is now upset that someone’s in their home and their now seeking revenge? Or is this a case of true self defence?”
Police officers are trained to use only as much force as necessary, Ladouceur said, and aren’t allowed to go over and above that.
“Again it’s something we monitor closely in the policing world, when officers make arrests,” he said. “We have to be cognizant of how much force we’re using in any given situation.”
There are circumstances where it’s not possible to flee a home invasion, the biggest recommendation is if you can get out of the situation, get out of the situation, Ladouceur said.
“If that means you have to vacate through a back door, vacate through a back door. It’s easier to back off that it is to confront,” he said. “Call the police and let the police handle it. Because then that responsibility doesn’t fall on you. It falls on the police officers that are trained to handle those situations.”
Ladouceur recommends to get out or get locked away in a safe place and call 9-1-1. He said that when police are called and told there’s an unwelcome visitor, they will respond quickly.
The courts at the end of the day are the ultimate decision-makers for how much force is necessary, and Ladouceur said courts will do a deep dive into putting themselves into the place of the individual at that given time.