Is It Acceptable to Use Deadly Force to Protect Your Property in Florida?
Recent studies have revealed that a burglary occurs every 25.7 seconds in the United States. According to the FBI, over two million homes experience a break-in or burglary every year, with more than 4,500 home burglaries occurring per day. The thought of a home invasion is enough for any homeowner to seek protection, whether it be an alarm system or a registered weapon. However, there are certain rules and restrictions in the State of Florida that you should consider before resorting to using deadly force to protect your family and property.
What Is Deadly Force in Florida?
Federal Regulations define deadly force as an action which a “reasonable person would consider likely to cause death or serious bodily harm.” For example, shooting an armed thief entering your home with your registered weapon would be considered deadly force.
Florida law states that an individual is justified in using or threatening to use force against another person if they feel that their conduct is the only way to “prevent or terminate the other’s trespassing” or “criminal interference” with their property, but this only applies if the property is legally theirs to protect. If someone attempted to use or threaten force against an individual who was looting or robbing a store they didn’t own, their actions would not be justifiable. In these circumstances, deadly force is not seen as an appropriate reaction to the situation and is deemed unlawful.
Many states do not allow for deadly force to be used in any circumstance. However, there are a few limited and specific situations in which the use of deadly force would be justified and protected under the law in Florida.
Extenuating Circumstances in Burglary Cases
If you are ever the victim of a burglary, you might have the impulse to use deadly force against the person targeting your home to protect yourself and your loved ones. Although this is never recommended and your first instinct should always be to alert the authorities, there are certain circumstances in which the State of Florida considers the use of deadly force justified.
Other states have similar regulations about self-defense which are referred to as “stand your ground” laws, including:
- South Carolina
These “stand your ground” laws state that an individual maintaining lawful presence and actions has the right to stand their ground and respond with force—including deadly force—when attacked, so long as they reasonably believe they must do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to themself or another or to prevent a forcible felony.
To better understand these concepts, examine Florida’s castle doctrine, which grants individuals the right to protect themselves and their property by any means they deem necessary if they see no other alternative method for self-protection. However, even in a circumstance in which the castle doctrine is invoked, deadly force may not be used to stop an individual from escaping the scene of a robbery, aggravated robbery, burglary, or other forcible felonies.
What to Do After an Attack
If you do experience a robbery or an armed burglary, deadly force should always be a last resort. After the incident, be sure to report the event to the authorities. They will likely visit your property to look for signs of forced entry, evidence, damage, and missing valuables, in addition to asking you and anyone else present for more information.
After speaking with the authorities, you should also inform your insurance company of the break-in and provide them with photos or videos of any damage that occurred during the incident. They will likely ask for a copy of the police report as well, which you can obtain from your local sheriff’s department.
If you live in an area with a high crime rate and are concerned for the safety of your family, installing a security system after an incident can give you peace of mind. Although you can’t protect your loved ones from every negative situation, having surveillance on your property can provide an extra layer of safety.
Contact an Experienced Defense Attorney in Orlando, Florida
If you have recently been involved in an incident involving deadly force, you need a trusted attorney by your side to ensure that you receive the best possible outcome for your case. Our experienced team at The Umansky Law Firm has helped thousands of individuals in Florida receive justice, and we can help you.
Not sure where to start? Take a look at our online case review process, or call our office to schedule your free consultation. You can also contact us online for more information on how we can help you obtain the results you deserve.