Hillsborough County Man Shoots 2 Alleged Home Invaders
On the morning of January 5, 2020, a Tampa man faced 2 teens trying to break into his home and fired shots in self-defense. The home’s resident told law enforcement that the young men entered the home through an unlocked door, carrying weapons; when one of them made demands, the resident fired at them with his own weapon. As of this writing, one suspect is deceased, while the other is in critical condition. This can be a highly complex situation for homeowners and residents, especially when claims of self-defense are not as clear-cut as this one, and knowing your rights is crucial.
“Stand Your Ground”
Florida was one of the first states to enact a so-called ‘stand your ground’ law, granting homeowners and residents significant rights if they are facing a home invader. The relevant law states that homeowners have the right to use deadly force if they reasonably believe that it is (or will be) necessary to “prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” to themselves or another person, or to prevent someone from committing a “forcible felony.” It also states that they have no duty to retreat or try and avoid a confrontation.
Florida law also assumes, if someone is in their home or personal vehicle, that they have a reasonable fear of imminent death or bodily harm if someone breaks in or otherwise obtains unlawful entry to the premises. In reality, a homeowner may not be afraid, or they may be afraid when they have no reason to be (that is, an “unreasonable fear”) – but since the law assumes reasonable fear, it gives the homeowner a greater freedom to act against the intruder.
In the case of the Tampa homeowner, the evidence of self-defense is so strong that it is unlikely he will face any kind of criminal charges, especially since the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office found he was in legal possession of his gun. However, it is important to keep in mind that if you are tried for assault or another violent crime in this type of situation, you do have the right to assert self-defense as long as there is a ‘scintilla’ of evidence to support that claim. Even the flimsiest evidence is good enough to allow you to claim self-defense – but you still must establish that the claim is true at trial.
Proving that claim can be difficult, though it is not impossible; in order to avoid conviction for any injury you might have inflicted in self-defense, you must be able to show that you did have that reasonable fear of death or harm to yourself or your family, and that you did not have a duty to retreat or act without force. For example, it is possible to find that you had the right to act in self-defense, but not to use deadly force. Each case is different, which is why it can be so critical to have good legal representation.
Contact A West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
While it remains to be seen what may befall the Tampa homeowner, if anything, no two cases are the same, and if you have had to act in your own self-defense, it is always a good idea to have an attorney on your side to help you decide how best to proceed. The West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can help you get a clear picture of the best course of action for you and your family. Contact us today to speak to an attorney.