The simple answer is yes. Chapter 776 of the Florida statutes called ‘Justifiable Use of Force’ tells you what you can and cannot do when defending yourself and your property. Self-defense can be used as a general defense to various crimes, including murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, improper exhibition of a weapon, manslaughter and a host of other felonies where you are defending either yourself and your family or your home. This self-defense can be through the use of deadly force or non-deadly force.

There are three sections to Chapter 776 that touch on home defense. Being a ‘stand your ground’ state, you may use deadly force to stop an intruder in West Palm Beach. Deadly force can be used when defending your home against forcible entry or against a person attempting to commit a ‘forcible felony’. This generally includes crimes like aggravated assault, sexual attacks, burglary, robbery, homicide, murder and so on. You can find the defenses contained in three sections of the Florida statutes (Florida statutes 776.012; 776.013; and 776.032.)

About Shooting an Intruder

Florida Statute 776.013 says that you may defend your home or occupied vehicle from anyone trying to unlawfully gain access or entry to it by use of deadly force. Should this kind of incidence occur, you do not need to retreat or fire a warning shot to scare the intruder. The law permits an absolute assumption that whoever was attempting the unlawful entry into your private property was doing so with the full intention of committing a violent act towards you or your family.

You, as the defendant, are assumed to be acting in reasonable fear or great bodily harm or death to yourself and/or to your family. Should you find yourself in such a situation, the police and prosecution cannot try to show that your fear was unreasonable or attempt to justify the illegal entry and intentions of the intruder.

The Limitations

Of course, this statute has limitations to what you can and cannot do. It states that:

– You cannot be engaged in illegal activity at the time of the shooting- You must be aware that an intruder has broken into your house/vehicle or is attempting to do so- The intruder does not have a right or permission to enter the property

If you are legally in the home, and an intruder tries to gain forceful entry, you can shoot them without warning. You are, however, strictly prohibited from shooting police officers who are in the process of carrying out their duties. Even if they attempt to gain entry into your property without your permission, you cannot shoot them. The use of deadly force or force of any kind against police officers is illegal.

The law also gets a little complicated when you shoot someone in the back. Especially if they were in the process of exiting the premises or property. In this kind of case, it may be assumed that the intruder was headed outside the house and in that instance, posed no immediate threat to you or your family. Of course, they might just be headed out to get better burglary equipment, you never really know, but shooting someone in the back, on their way out of the house means that you may not be protected by these statutes.