In early April 2020, the Fifth District Court of Appeals dismissed charges against a Port St. John man, John DeRossett, ruling that Mr. DeRossett did not commit a crime under Florida’s Stand your Ground Law. DeRossett was accused of shooting a deputy while three were on his property conducting a sting operation directed at his niece, whom they believed had been performing actions of prosecution. DeRossett’s niece yelled for help, and DeRossett, not knowing who the men were, shot one of them. Deputy Casey Smith was shot in the lower abdomen but has since recovered from his injuries.
The story is an interesting one, as it highlights the protection afforded to Florida homeowners. The state’s Stand Your Ground Law is quite complex and largely misunderstood. All Floridians must be aware of this law so they know what rights and obligations they have.
The Stand Your Ground Law
Florida’s Stand Your Ground law provides that you have the right to live peacefully and safely in your own home. You also have the right to defend yourself, your family, and your property when someone enters your home without permission. The law also allows you to use deadly force when necessary. Taking someone’s life is a very serious matter, and certain requirements must be met in order to use this as a defense.
An Immediate Threat
Under the Stand Your Ground law, you may only use deadly force if you feel your life is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm, or if the life of a loved one is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. Imminent danger does not only include death under the law, but danger of injury, as well. When there is no threat of imminent danger, you may use non-deadly force on the intruder.
Duty to Retreat
Some states require homeowners to attempt to retreat before using force on an intruder. That is, they must first attempt to escape and only use force when that is not possible. There is no such requirement under Florida’s law, which is why it is called the Stand Your Ground law.
Exceptions to the Law
You cannot use force on anyone that enters into your home, as the law exempts certain individuals. Law enforcement officers are allowed to enter a property without the homeowner’s permission, which surely made DeRossett’s case more difficult. Minor children the homeowner has custody of are also exempt under the law and force cannot be used on them when they enter the home.
Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers can Help with Your Case
It is unfortunate that sometimes when a person exerts their rights, they face criminal charges. It also happens all too often. If you have been charged after defending your home, call our Orlando criminal defense lawyers at O’Mara Law Group. Our experienced attorneys know how to protect your rights and give you the best chance of success with your case. Call us today at (407) 634-6604 or contact us online to schedule a meeting so we can get started on your case.