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Defense of the Home vs. Self-Defense

According to a recent news article a St. Cloud, Florida woman accidentally shot her stepdaughter in the torso. The stepdaughter later died from her injuries at the hospital. According to the article, the stepdaughter lives in the same home with the woman and the woman’s husband, a St. Cloud police office officer. However, the woman expected the stepdaughter to be in North Carolina visiting family and was unprepared when the stepdaughter entered her home in the midnight hours. The woman shot the stepdaughter, believing the stepdaughter to be a home invader. Law enforcement indicates that, at present, it appears the woman’s story is plausible.

Florida’s Home Defense Law

Florida allows deadly force to be used under circumstances where an unauthorized individual or other person unlawfully and forcibly enters the home of another or attempts to unlawfully and forcibly enter the home of another and the person who uses deadly force against the individual has reason to believe the unauthorized individual is unlawfully and forcibly entering the home. Under Florida law, a resident of a home faced with this situation is presumed to have a reasonable belief that death or great bodily harm is about to be inflicted on them by the intruder, justifying the use of deadly force. If the home defense law applies, it becomes very difficult for prosecutors to convict the defendant of

The “home defense law” has several exceptions, one of which is especially relevant in this case: if the “intruder” has a legal right to be in the residence, then the presumption enabling the homeowner to use deadly force does not apply. Because it appears that the stepdaughter did have a legal right to be in the home, the woman in the news story will not likely be able to hide behind the presumption of the home defense law.

Why This Woman Will Not Likely Be Charged with a Crime

Despite the fact that this woman will not enjoy the presumption afforded by the home defense law, it is unlikely she will face any serious charges from this event: The woman can still claim self-defense and, if a judge or jury finds her belief that she was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm reasonable, her claim will be successful. In asserting self-defense, a judge or jury considers all of the circumstances of the situation in which the defendant found him- or herself and considers the reasonableness of the defendant’s beliefs and actions.

This is where an experienced criminal defense attorney can really be of assistance to a criminal defendant. A knowledgeable and powerful advocate like Jeffrey S. Weiner can ensure that all relevant circumstances of your situation are presented to the judge and/or jury in a persuasive manner, increasing the chances that your claim of self-defense will be accepted. If you are charged with a crime in Florida, talk with Jeffrey S. Weiner today and discover whether you may have a viable claim of self defense. You can call him at (305) 670-9919 or contact him through his website.

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