It is 3 a.m. when an armed intruder breaks into your home. With your spouse and children upstairs, you grab your weapon and quietly make your way toward the noise. Out of nowhere, a man lunges toward you. You are afraid, and you shoot him dead.
In a different scenario, an unarmed intruder breaks into your home, but you do not know whether he is carrying a weapon or not. With your family upstairs, you make your way toward the noise and find a man heading toward the front door with your television. You are afraid, and you shoot him dead.
These kinds of situations bring Florida’s “stand your ground” law into question. Passed in 2005, this law gives citizens a right to threaten or use force under certain circumstances when they feel threatened by unlawful force. The law breaks down into Florida Statutes 776.012 and 776.013. The second segment of this two-part blog post explores the latter statute.
When the law justifies lethal or nonlethal force
Unlike the statute on personal protection, the home protection statute does not specify different times when it permits lethal and nonlethal force. Instead, it simply grants you the right to threaten or use either deadly or nondeadly force in situations where you feel your life or the life of another is in immediate danger. Forcible felonies also permit either type of force.
When the law presumes reasonable fear
Whether an intruder is in the process of forcefully entering your home or has already forcefully entered, F.S. 776.013 says it is reasonable to fear for your life. The law also considers fear to be reasonable when an intruder forcibly removes someone from the home against his or her will, although there are some exceptions to this part. Child custody removal processes do not apply, for example.
Other things to note
As with the other half of the stand your ground law, there is “no duty to retreat” with the home protection statute. In addition, a dwelling is not necessarily a house. It can be a temporary residence at a friend’s home or even a tent.