If you've been locked in someone's house against your consent, and they refuse to let you out when you directly ask them to unlock a door, is it legal to let them know you will take the keys by force if they don't let you leave, and then take the keys by force if they still refuse to let you out?

(Assume the keys are used to immediately unlock a door and exit the house, then thrown back into the house so that you've only possessed them for the necessary span to use them.)

This by necessity entails physical contact that would be considered assault in most cases (assuming they've kept the keys on their person) and I'm not sure if the threat is direct enough for self defence to apply.

If not, can you:
1. Break windows or doors to escape?
2. Call the police?
3. Call a locksmith?
4. Other options?

(country is Australia, mostly interested in Queensland but opinions for other states could help give an idea of the spread - states sometimes play follow-the-leader on obscure questions too.)

  • Australia yes, but which state? – Dale M Aug 15 '17 at 10:35
  • Good question, I'm interested in Queensland mainly, but answers for other states could give an idea of the spread. I'll add that to the question. – Bruno Aug 15 '17 at 16:58
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    Locking someone in a house is the crime of false imprisonment. (If they forcibly transported you to the house and then locked you in, it's also kidnapping.) Certainly you can call the police, or a locksmith, or break a window to get out. I would imagine you can use physical force against a person as well - conceivably even deadly force if necessary - but I am not sure; most discussions of self defense speak of protecting yourself against "violence". – Nate Eldredge Aug 15 '17 at 17:09
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    According to the Wikipedia article on self-defense in Australian law, both South Australia and New South Wales recognize preventing/terminating unlawful imprisonment as a partial defense against a charge of murder (acting in self-defense makes it manslaughter instead.) – Michael Seifert Aug 15 '17 at 18:23
  • Just wanted to say the comments so far have been very helpful (in that, for starters, at first I wasn't even aware it was called false imprisonment). I've tracked down an essay with some potentially relevant Australian case law that I'm trying to find the time to read to make a comprehensive answer. In the meantime I think the existing comments re: false imprisonment could constitute a decent answer on their own. – Bruno Aug 23 '17 at 0:56

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