Charges Unlikely in Shooting Death
Seventeen-year-old Trevon Johnson was fatally shot earlier this month in Miami, but his shooter is unlikely to face any criminal or civil ramifications as a result. Johnson was alleged to have broken into the home of Gwendolyn Jenrette at a time when Jenrette was not home. Security alarms alerted her that someone was in her home and the police were summoned to the scene. Before the police arrived, however, Jenrette entered her home armed with a gun looking for the intruder. When she discovered Johnson, an altercation ensued that left Johnson with a gunshot wound to his chest.
Why No Charges for Jenrette?
This incident is different from the Trayvon Martin shooting that occurred several years ago. In this case, Jenrette was not home when she was alerted to an intruder in her home. There was no reason she needed to return home as, somehow, the police had already been notified. There was no real need for Jenrette to locate the intruder in her home – according to at least one report, Jenrette was even told not to enter her home while the intruder was still present. So why are reporters speculating that Jenrette will not face any legal ramifications?
The answer has to do with Florida’s self-defense and “Stand Your Ground” laws. Most states protect individuals who use deadly force when they reasonably believe that they are at risk of sustaining great bodily harm or death, but Florida’s laws go further. Individuals who forcibly break and enter into a home – or attempt to do so – are presumed by law to be doing so with the intent to commit a forceful or violent act. What this means from a practical standpoint is that homeowners are given wide latitude to use deadly force against intruders who unlawfully and forcibly enter their homes. Homeowners do not have a duty to retreat to safety but instead can remain at any location where they are lawfully entitled to be.
Protection from Criminal Prosecution
Self-defense is one of several legal defenses that can be raised in a manslaughter or murder case. Raising a claim of self-defense does not prevent a person from being charged with a crime; rather, a successful self-defense claim will act to prevent a conviction in the case. A jury (or a judge, if you elect to have a bench trial) will consider your self-defense claim and the reasonableness of your actions. But as Jenrette’s case illustrates, at least in cases of homeowners using deadly force against intruders, most claims of self-defense in Florida have a good chance of success.
Miami criminal defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner has represented many Florida residents charged with serious criminal offenses, including various homicide defenses. He knows the power of self-defense claims and will conduct a thorough investigation into your case to determine if you may be able to assert a self-defense claim. Contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. today by calling (305) 670-9919 or contacting the firm online.