While several of Kevin McCallister’s creative booby traps in Home Alone are very dangerous and potentially lethal, they don’t seem to fall outside of the confines of the law. On Twitter, defense attorney Mike Buresh did a deep dive into the legalities of the movie with a series of tweets to determine if what Kevin was doing was actually legal. As Home Alone is set in Chicago, Buresh referred to Illinois law for his findings, ultimately declaring that the eight-year-old home defender isn’t breaking the law.
“The provision in Illinois law that permits the use of force in defense of a dwelling is fairly permissive,” Buresh explains. “Kevin’s intitial acts, the heated doorknob on the front door and the torch inside the back door, constituted force likely to cause death or great bodily harm. However, these acts were permissible under Section 7-2(a)(2) because he reasonably believed his acts were [necessary] to prevent the commission of a felony in the dwelling, ie. Residential Burglary (Class 1 Felony).”
The lawyer adds, “After those intitial encounters, Harry and Marv expressed an explicit intent to inflict personal violence on Kevin, making Kevin’s subsequent acts permissible under 7-2(a)(1). At this point, Kevin’s actions were also permissible under 7-1 because his actions were necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself, or the commission of a forcible felony (Residential Burglary).”
Buresh also refers to what apparently spawned the debate, which was a recent tweet from Matt Topic on Twitter. In the tweet, Topic claims that Kevin is a “vigilante” after a rewatch of the original two Home Alone movies, arguing that he could have instead gone to the police instead of making booby traps and, therefore, “does not have a valid self-defense claim.”
For his part, Buresh isn’t buying that argument. Instead, the lawyer refers to the case of J.D.B. v. North Carolina, in which the Supreme Court ruled that what’s “reasonable” must be viewed through the lens of a juvenile and not by what is considered reasonable by an adult. As a little boy who truly believed that wishing he didn’t have a family made them actually vanish, Kevin’s acts are still justified according to Buresh.
“Kevin’s belief that he had caused his family to disappear and that he alone was responsible for protecting the home without police assistance should be viewed through the lens of a reasonable 8-year-old, and is therefore reasonable. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals,” Buresh writes.
Indeed, while Kevin’s traps just might kill the would-be burglars in real life, it’s hard to imagine a situation where a child would be arrested for defending his home. The Wet Bandits had made it obvious to Kevin that they were no longer interested in taking any valuables and hoping to capture him personally to do who-knows-what with him. If a paint can to the face prevents a child abduction on Christmas, then we should all be able to agree that it would be worth it. In any case, with the legalities explained by Buresh, it seems more clear than ever that Kevin wasn’t breaking the law. This information comes from Mike Buresh on Twitter.