So I am reading a fictional book, that takes place in Sweden, and there is a situation presented that strike me as implausible.

A female character is being "stalked" by another character, and received emails suggesting violence and also had her property damaged. Also she had proof that someone entered her home when she was not home and stole things. Presumably the stalker.

In response, this character then sought to arm herself, in her home, with golf clubs in various parts of the house. The thought was in case of another forced entry she could bash the guy over the head with a golf club.

Instead she was encouraged to have armed security because if she killed the intruder, under Swedish law, she could very well be charged with manslaughter, and possibly murder if it could be proved that she placed the golf clubs around the house ahead of time.

Is this true in Sweden? Can a person be convicted of manslaughter or murder if they kill an intruder that they suspect of ill intent?

The situation seemed implausible to me, and that the author kind of flubbed this one.

  • I am not very knowledgable about Swedish law, but many places have a "duty to retreat" if possible without endangering oneself, before engaging in self-defense. In the US, this generally does not extend to one's home, but again I don't know about Swedish law. What is true is that a murder charge generally requires prior knowledge, and preparation before an event can be construed as prior knowledge. So the "upgrade" to murder seems plausible, if the manslaughter charge is valid.
    – sharur
    Nov 5, 2019 at 14:59

2 Answers 2


It certainly makes a claim of self-defence harder to justify.

In Sweden, the law of self-defense (Swedish: nödvärn) allows a person attacked to excuse or justify a proportionate use of violence in defense of the person or property.

The criteria is if the force used was "blatantly unjustifiable". By placing golf clubs the stalking victim is preparing to respond with violence to a threat which is not immanent.

There are other things she could do instead. Like, engaging a security guard. Or putting screens on the windows and deadlocks on the doors. Or having a friend stay over, Or telling the police.

She is certainly at risk of invalidating a self-defense claim. Putting the golf clubs around the house indicates that she is planning to use (potentially deadly) violence in response to an attack rather than reacting with violence proportionate to the threat in the moment. You cannot use deadly force to prevent a break-in or a theft - only to protect a life.

  • 1
    @GeorgeWhite it would be illegal in Sweden to have a gun in your pocket - sweden.org.za/gun-laws-in-sweden.html. I have a suspicion you might be from the United States? If so, you should be aware that virtually everywhere else in the world you can't carry a gun in your pocket.
    – Dale M
    Nov 5, 2019 at 22:15
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    @GeorgeWhite most places you can't carry a knife either, at least not without a reason if the knife is a weapon.
    – Dale M
    Nov 5, 2019 at 22:31
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    But looking at the Wikipedia article you reference, the Swedes seem to (a) not have a obligation to run away and (b) have a pretty robust margin of appreciation in use of proportional violence ("not blatantly unjustifiable"). Ensuring you have the proverbial golf-club to hand for self defense given a reasonable fear of attack does not sound like evidence of premediation of killing. Nov 6, 2019 at 10:07
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    @DaleM I kind of hate your answer, but not because of the quality. Obviously in the US, there is some very different thinking when it comes to home invasion.
    – Pete B.
    Nov 6, 2019 at 11:22
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    @PeteB. Yes, the US is a place of nearly palpable fear of other people - it’s such a relief when I leave.
    – Dale M
    Nov 6, 2019 at 19:02

as someone that lives in Sweden even tho i am not very knowledgeable about the law outside of the common scenes and such but i do know that planning on violence will not be the problem but rather using excessive violence than necessary, ex you can punch someone unconscious but continue will cause you to be charged to, hitting them wont be the problem but rather hitting them before they hit you or hitting them when you know they wont/cant attack back will be on your hands. maybe a little bit late but hope this helps

ps sorry for my english

  • Your English is certainly better than my Swedish!
    – Pete B.
    Aug 25, 2020 at 14:53

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