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Victim of Burglary Charged With Murder

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If somebody breaks into your home with the intent to steal from you, or harm you or your family, Florida law permits you to use lethal force without question.

Florida's Stand Your Ground law includes a legal presumption that an uninvited person who enters your home has the intent to commit a crime. Therefore, you may use lethal force. You are not required to try to escape. You are not required to confirm that the uninvited person is, in fact, a burglar. You are not required to make sure that the burglar has a weapon.

Specifically, the language of the statute reads, "a person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence."

The statute is unambiguous. You have an absolute right of self-defense inside of your home. Period.

However, here is a case out of Miami-Dade County that is about to test the limits of the Stand Your Ground law.

Just the other night, a 19-year old man was home in his Northwest Miami-Dade when he heard a knock at the door. The man ignored the knock, but moments later, he heard the breaking of glass. A burglar was entering the residence through a bedroom window.

Aware that an intruder was inside of the bedroom, the 19-year old grabbed his semi-automatic pistol and took a position near the bedroom door. When the burglar emerged from the bedroom, the 19-year old fired seven rounds.

The burglar ran into another part of the home. The 19-year old left the home and waited outside for approximately three minutes. When the man saw the burglar trying to exit the home through the bedroom window, the man fired six rounds and killed the burglar.

This 19-year old man who was presumably protecting himself and his home has been charged with second-degree murder.

The question that the judge will no doubt face within the next year or so is, "does Stand Your Ground apply?"

There are a number of ways to look at this. First and foremost, was he in danger when he fired the lethal shots? There is no doubt that the first shots he fired inside of the home were done in lawful self-defense. But once the man left the home and was no longer in danger, did he still have the right to use lethal force?

The State Attorney's Office has charged the man. Their position is that once he fled his home, he was no longer in immediate danger. Also, since he was no longer inside of his home, he was not permitted to use lethal force absent a showing of immediate danger.

This case will likely test the limits of Stand Your Ground. Meanwhile, he is being held without bond as he is facing life in prison.