Recently, former Terra Verde beauty queen Meghan Brown shot and killed an intruder who broke into her Pinellas County home. As the intruder grappled with her fiancé, Brown calmly reached into a drawer and removed her pink .38 special. Four shots later the intruder was dead. This has prompted many Tampa Bay residents to question when they are permitted to use deadly force to stop an intruder. We recently sat down with Tampa Criminal Defense lawyer and former State prosecutor Barry Taracks to discuss Florida's stand your ground law.
"Clients have come to me since this event asking 'when can I use deadly force in Florida?' Florida's stand your ground law is also known as the Castle Doctrine, named such as a man's home is considered his castle. In Florida, you have the right to defend your home, or castle." Mr. Taracks began.
"Florida Statute 776.013 defines Home Protection, Use of Deadly Force, and the Presumption of Fear of Death or Great Bodily Harm. In Florida, the law states that a person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself when using defensive force that could cause death or great bodily harm if the person against whom he or she is using force was in the process of unlawfully entering their home or vehicle, or if that person was attempting to remove someone from a home or occupied vehicle. What this basically means is that you are justified in using deadly force if someone is breaking into your occupied home or vehicle, or attempting to kidnap someone from your home or vehicle. This means that you have the right to protect yourself against would-be car jackers and burglars."
There are several exceptions to this law, however. "The presumption doesn't apply if the person you are using force against has a lawful right to be in your home or vehicle, or if the person being removed is the child or grandchild of the person you are using force against. Additionally, you can't use deadly force against a law enforcement officer who has identified himself as such."
According to Mr. Taracks, Florida follows a common sense approach. "If someone is breaking into your home or vehicle with the intent to commit a crime and you are inside, you have the right to stand your ground. Ms. Brown was using her head - she knew there was an intruder in her home and she had to think fast to protect herself and her fiancé. In these situations it is important to remain calm, analyze the situation, and take what measures you deem necessary to lawfully protect your family."
Mr. Taracks suggests every home and vehicle owner (especially those who own weapons) reads Florida Statute 776.013 and consults an attorney if he or she has questions regarding his or her rights and responsibilities. "My firm has three former state prosecutors on staff that are willing to answer your legal questions 24 hours a day. A consultation with one of our experienced Tampa criminal defense lawyers is always free, so if you have a question or have been charged with a crime, call us today at 813-281-2897."
Call the law firm of Taracks & Associates today if you have a question regarding your legal rights. Taracks & Associates - The Advocate For You.