Self-defense definition to be expanded following rise in burglaries

The Czech Senate has passed a law expanding the right to self-defense, though the right to use weapons in defending the home is not included.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 27.10.2021 11:18 (updated on 27.10.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Senate has passed a Penal Code amendment extending the conditions for the right to self-defense. The new law should guarantee that people who defend themselves against attackers would be exempt from punishment if they acted out of fear, confusion or another justifiable emotion caused by the attack.

The amendment does not clearly state that people can use a weapon in self-defense, although the original text of the law included this specification.

The change will mean that when assessing the right to self-defense, courts should not only take into account the nature of the attack, but also its time, place, and any other relevant circumstances related to the attacker or the defender.

The amendment, prepared by senator Zdeněk Hraba (STAN), will now be sent back to the Chamber of Deputies. If the other house of Czech parliament gives it final approval, it will take effect as of July 2022.

The amendment was first tabled last year in order to strengthen the position of the defender against the attacker. It originally included the "my home, my castle" principle applied in neighboring Slovakia, which allows for the use of weapons when defending one’s home. In order to win wider support for the amendment, Hraba gave up this original focus on the use of weapons.

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The deliberate murder of the attacker would still be a crime under the new law.

The amendment was prepared at a time when a worrying spike was being seen in the number of burglaries in Prague and surrounding areas. The crime rate in the Czech capital increased by 3.5 percent to 199,221 cases in 2019, reversing a declining trend seen in the preceding years. Then, at the start of 2020, Prague and surrounding areas registered a significant spike in groups carrying out a string of burglaries on family homes. As such, Prague as well as a number of other Czech cities have significantly expanded their CCTV monitoring operations in recent months.

It's hoped the new law will encourage greater legal understanding for those who respond to aggression with acts of self-defense, while helping stamp out burglaries and other types of attacks in the Czech Republic.

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