Say the police turn up at your house with a search warrant. They show it to you, and it is more than 3 months old and so invalid, and therefore does not give them the right to enter your house. You tell them, but they still try to force entry in a way that makes you fear for your life.

If this was not police, then you would be legally able to respond with force, including lethal force if required. This is the police, but they are engaged in illegal activity. What actions are you allowed to take to protect yourself in this situation?

  • Generally, you should get a lawyer and fight this. Generally in common law an invalid search will mean that all evidence of anything illegal will not be admissible in court against you (it can still be seized) so if you were up to something illegal, but they weren't given a warrant to search, they can't use that stuff against you... though it might not be returned to you.
    – hszmv
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 18:49
  • @hszmz Unlike in the US (I believe), in E&W unlawfully siezed evidence is not automatically ruled inadmissible by the court. It depends whether its inclusion / exclusion will facilitate a fair trial or not. (Disciplinary / criminal charges against officers may be also considered appropriate.)
    – user35069
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 20:43

1 Answer 1


Anyone can use reasonable force to remove a trespasser from thier home, and anyone can use reasonable force to in self defence if they have an honestly held belief that they, or someone else, is in fear of imminent violence. There is no precise legal definition of what is reasonable and each case will be considered in light of its particular circumstances and merits.

In , if the officers were executing an invalid warrant - and importantly had no other legal power of entry - they (on the information provided) would be not be "acting in the execution of their duty" so would be trespassing.

Some relevant case law is Khan 2008 and Cheeseman 2017. The latter is a "Householder Case" that uses (unsuccessfully) the defence under s.76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

In Khan the police used s.18 PACE (a non-warranted power of entry and search) without meeting the statutory requirements and were duly sued in civil court for trespass - Khan was awarded £1,250 in damages.

Cheeseman was convicted of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm (but acquitted of attempted murder) of a trespasser after failing in his claim that he acted self-defence.

  • 3
    In a US context, use of force to resist the police, even when the police are acting unlawfully, is apt to be unwise, even fatally unwise. And it might not be held to be quite legal, either. I will look into a proper answer based on US law. Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 16:34
  • 2
    @DavidSiegel: I'm aware of a case in Maryland that was relatively recent where an officer executing a warrant on the wrong house was shot (non-fatally) by the home owner, who was not prosecuted. That said, it was the prosecutor choosing not to file charges on the matter, and not a matter of case law. Castle Doctrine is held in all 50 states, though in practice, shooting officers executing a warrant erroneously against you is not advised, since they are prepared to shoot back because they think there's a criminal in the house, even though it is legal to do so.
    – hszmv
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 18:46
  • 1
    @hszmv Is this it? Maryland police shot entering "wrong address"
    – user35069
    Commented Apr 20, 2021 at 22:29
  • About coming to the defense of another in the US… some jurisdictions require you to have a “special relationship” with the person whom you come to defend. Examples are parent/child, spouse/spouse. Also, in most jurisdictions, you’re only able to defend someone with force if it reasonably appears that the person would have the right to defend themselves in that particular situation.
    – A.fm.
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 0:08
  • @RockApe: That's the one.
    – hszmv
    Commented Apr 21, 2021 at 11:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .