There is an interesting case out of England on the limits of self-defense, a question that we often discuss in class. Munir Hussain, 52, has been convicted for attacking an armed robber who broke into his house and held him and his family hostage — while reportedly promising to kill them all. They were eventually able to free themselves and turn the tables on the three robbers. Walid Salem, 56, was beaten in the aftermath with bats. He can only sue the family for tort damages for the assault and battery. Hussain’s brother Tokeer was also convicted.
The privilege of self-defense expires once the threat has passed and must only extend to commensurate levels of force. Once the privilege expires, self-defense becomes battery.
In this case, Hussain, his wife, their teenage daughter, and two sons were tied up by the three robbers and told that they would die. Hussains’ teenage son managed to escape through a window and two of the robbers fled. Hussain then throw a table at Salem, who was set upon with bats and poles. Hussain insisted it was neighbors who did the beating.
England has passed a new law to assist such homeowners if they act out of fear for their safety. Justice Secretary Jack Straw told the public “For a passer-by witnessing a street crime or a householder faced with a burglar, we are reassuring them that if they use force which is not excessive or disproportionate, the law really is behind them.”
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