Assault Charges: Defence of Property
In general, a property owner or tenant can use force to eject a trespasser or to prevent a person from breaking into or forcibly entering his or her home. Similarly, they can use force to prevent another person from damaging or destroying the property. The force used in these cases must be reasonable. Even if the victim was not a trespasser, the property owner or tenant may be acting in self defence if he or she reasonably believes that the victim is trespassing.
Where the application of force is the result of carelessness or a reflex action, the criminal intent is lacking and no assault is committed. A reflex action need not be in response to an actual blow but may also occur in response to a perceived and immediate threat.
Reasonable force can be used to prevent the commission of a serious offence that would be likely to cause immediate and serious injury or property damage. This defence is designed to permit an innocent bystander, who witnesses an offence being or about to be committed, to use force to prevent it.
A person who witnesses a breach of the peace is authorized to use reasonable force to stop it or prevent its continuation or renewal.