Would a statute like the Florida "stand your ground" law appply to the following situation? A 62-year-old retired army officer was awakened by noise in his home. He got up, and armed with a pistol, walked into a hallway where he saw two men coming toward him. He fired the pistol, killing both men, who were in the act of burglary.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

English Common Law, the law in all states except Louisiana, states that a man's home is his castle; meaning he has no duty to retreat from there. If he encounters a hostile situation  outside, or even on his front porch, he has a duty to retreat from the encounter; unless retreat is prevented. However, once one is inside his home, there is no such duty. If an intruder is in one's home, there is a legal presumption that the intruder is there to inflict great bodily harm. The fact that the entry was at night, it is common law burglary, an exceptionally serious felony second only to Murder. So, regardless of the Florida Statute, one has the inherent right to use deadly force within one's own home if an intruder is there.

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The situation that you describe here would fit perfectly under the Florida law that you mention.

Basically, what the Florida law does is to codify when force is justified and when a person must refrain from using force.  The law says that any person who is legally in a dwelling may assume that any person who enters the dwelling illegally is going to cause them bodily harm or death.  The law further states that the person in the home legally has not duty to retreat -- they do not have to try to run away.

Both of these would apply to the situation you mention.  The first part of the law tells us that the home owner has, by definition, reason to fear being harmed or killed.  The second part tells us that he does not have to try to run away from the men.  If he has a reason to fear for his life, and if he does not have to try to escape, he is clearly allowed to shoot the intruders.

Therefore, the Florida law clearly applies in this situation.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial