Florida has one of the strongest “Castle Doctrine” laws on the books, which allow homeowners to use lethal force against those who unlawfully enter their homes. The law does require that in order to threaten or use deadly force, the resident/ homeowner has to believe such force is necessary to either prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to herself or someone else or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
In this case, the 54-year-old homeowner wasn’t at the time of the burglar’s initial entry, but rather was alerted to the break-in by a home security camera. She reportedly returned home and searched the property room-to-room, until she spotted the teen climbing out a window. She told investigators there was a confrontation and she shot him. Further, police were reportedly on their way.
The case has made national headlines. According to a report by The Washington Post, there was no indication the teen was armed.
F.S. 776.013, better known as the, “Stand Your Ground Law, spells out the details of when it applies. The statutes says that deadly force can be used if it is directed toward someone who was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering or had unlawfully or forcibly entered a dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle. The law further says that when a person unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s home, it can be presumed he or she does so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence, and that the person who is being attacked inside his or her residence has no duty to retreat. Rather, he or she has the right to “stand his or her ground” and use or threaten to use force if necessary.
Although the shooting occurred in March, officials have yet to make a decision on whether to charge the homeowner.
She had reportedly been the victim of prior break-ins at her home in Liberty City, which is known to be a crime-prone area. She installed security cameras around her duplex, and it was that security system that alerted her on that afternoon that someone had broken into her home. It’s unclear whether she called police after learning this information or if the security system automatically contacted authorities after detecting an intrusion.
When she encountered the teen in her home, police said, she shot him one time.
Local news media painted the woman something of a hero, but family members of the alleged victim say he didn’t deserve to die over a property crime. They further allege he hadn’t stolen anything.
However, our Florida criminal defense attorneys know burglary is more than a minor property crime. It is in fact a felony, and per F.S. 810.02, can be even a first- or second-degree felony. In this case, it would have been a second-degree felony, as it involved a dwelling but with no one there at the time the person entered or remained. Second-degree felonies in Florida are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
A Miami woman killed a teen burglar as he fled her home, policy say. Should she be charged? March 15, 2016, By Michael E. Miller, The Washington Post
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Broward Robbery Confession From Defendant’s Twin Stalls Case, May 9, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog