Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law went into effect in 2005. The law is an extension of the Castle Doctrine, which allows people to respond to an attacker with deadly force in the home or in public. However, the person must reasonably believe that he or she is in danger of death or great bodily harm. As long as they act within the limits of the law, homeowners who kill or injure intruders are usually not charged with a crime.
Several recent cases in Palm Beach County and Miami involve the Castle Doctrine, but experts say these cases do not represent a larger trend. Last week, a Wellington resident shot and wounded one of the two men who into his house. On that same day, a Miami father and son used deadly force against a man who jumped the fence and entered their yard (police as still investigating the cause of death). Earlier this month, a burglar wielding a baseball bat had his arm broken after a group of men in a Lake Worth house used the bat against him to protect the house.
It is important to note that if an intruder surrenders or is incapacitated and someone uses deadly force against the intruder, that person may face criminal charges. According to a homicide prosecutor with the Broward State Attorney’s Office, people should not respond with deadly force unless they are in immediate danger.
South Florida residents strike back at intruders, South Florida Sun Sentinel, September 11, 2009
For more information and answers to your other legal questions, contact our South Florida criminal defense law firm.