Someone who is worried about robbers or trespassers may decide to set up booby traps on their own property. The rationale is simple: If someone isn’t supposed to be on the property, the property owner assumes they have the right to do anything they want to “protect” themselves from that person. They also assume this means booby traps are fine and that they’re within their rights, claiming that the traps are just there for self-defense.
This is an inaccurate assumption. Booby traps are actually illegal, and the courts have taken this stance over and over. Even with the excuse of self-defense, setting up traps to harm someone else is illegal. It doesn’t matter how effective the movies may make this seem. People cannot do it, and they will be liable for injuries that these traps cause.
One reason that the law works this way is that innocent people may be injured by the traps. For instance, say your neighbor sets up a trap on their property because they don’t want to get robbed. While you’re walking your dog, it gets off of the leash and runs into their yard. You go onto the property to get your dog back and get injured by the trap.
Now, your neighbor can say that you weren’t the target and that they never meant to hurt you, and that’s true, but they still caused your injuries. The damage is done. They could have avoided it, but they chose not to. As a result, you may be able to seek compensation.