Citing Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the ruling of a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge, holding that a Miami-Dade man was justified in aiming a rifle at a pair of FPL workers who entered the man's property.
The Court reasoned that the man believed that force was necessary to protect himself against what he thought were burglars.
Two FPL employees climbed a fence and entered the accused's property for the purpose of shutting off his power for failure to make payments. The accused woke up to find the two men in his yard. He approached them with a rifle in hand, and marched them off the property. The accused man then fired his rifle in the air.
He was charged with the felony of aggravated assault with a firearm, and the misdemeanors of improper exhibition of a firearm, and unlawful discharge of af firearm.
The Circuit Court judge ruled that the accused was justified in aiming his weapon at the men as he reasonably believed that the men were burglars. However, the appellate court maintained that the misdemeanor charge of unlawful discharge of a firearm could remain in place as the man had no right to fire his weapon once the men were off his property and were no longer a threat.
Stand Your Ground provides people with immunity from prosecution for using force - even lethal force - to protect their lives or the lives of others. Stand Your Ground eliminates the common law duty to retreat in a place outside of your home. Provided you are in a place where you are permitted to be and are not committing a crime, you are permitted to "stand your ground" and meet force with force when threatened or attacked.
Eric Matheny is a Miami criminal attorney and Broward criminal attorney.