When police in Santa Rosa, Florida, finally caught a burglar who had broken into multiple homes, they saw he had a gunshot wound. The County Sheriff seemed to salute the shooter and encourage others to shoot at anyone who breaks into their property. Is this good advice?
Florida Sheriff Praises Person Who Shot Home Burglar
On a Wednesday night in April, a neighborhood in Pace, Florida, had a flood of break-ins. Multiple residents called to report that someone had broken into their houses. When police showed up, they pursued the culprit as he ran away, jumping over fences and continuing to break into houses.
When they finally caught the 32-year-old suspect, he was wounded. He was shot, but not by a police officer. A homeowner had shot him presumably while the burglar was on their property. No one claimed responsibility for the shooting, and the burglar was arrested.
It seems that Santa Rosa County Sheriff, Bob Johnson approved of the shooting, according to statements he made at a press conference.
As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, Sheriff Johnson commended the shooter, saying he or she should attend a gun safety course to “learn to shoot a lot better” and “save the taxpayers money.”
“If someone is breaking into your house, you’re more than welcome to shoot at them in Santa Rosa County. We’d prefer that you do actually,” he said.
The sheriff also encouraged other residents to take action if they find someone breaking into their house. He invited people to take the sheriff’s office gun safety course offered every other Saturday, adding, “If you take that, you’ll shoot a lot better, and hopefully, you’ll save the taxpayers money.”
It begs the question: is it legal to shoot someone who breaks into your house, whether or not the local sheriff told you to?
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What Happens if You Shoot a Burglar on Your Property in Florida?
In the burglar shooting, it appears that no homeowner wanted to admit that they shot the culprit. Even after the sheriff’s encouraging words, no one came forward to take responsibility. It seems that whoever shot the burglar didn’t want to face any potential attention or consequences for their actions.
Without knowing the full details of what happened, we can’t know if what the shooter did would leave them in legal trouble. But, we can look at Florida laws to see what laws relate to the incident.
Florida Statute 776.031 outlines the use or threatened use of force in defense of property. It says a person is not permitted to use deadly force to prevent trespass. But, it also says a person is justified in “using or threatening to use deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
According to this part of Florida law, it may be lawful to shoot someone if they break into your property and you believe they are going to commit a felony.
Another Florida law also relates to the situation.
Under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, individuals can use deadly force as a means to protect themselves without first retreating from the threat. Florida Statute 776.012 says, “The use of deadly force is justifiable when a person is resisting any attempt to murder such person or to commit any felony upon him or her or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person shall be.”
According to this part of Florida law, it may be lawful to shoot someone if they break into your property and you believe they are going to murder you or someone else.
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So, Is It Legal to Shoot an Intruder?
While Santa Rosa County Sheriff Johnson may have encouraged homeowners to shoot people on their property, it may not be as cut and dry as he made it sound.
If a person is in their home and feels that they have a reasonable fear of imminent death, danger, or bodily harm from an intruder or if they believe the intruder is about to commit a felony, the homeowner may be able to shoot and kill a person and not face any legal consequences.
But, it isn’t always a sure thing.
If you shoot someone, you would need to prove that you thought the intruder was going to commit a felony or harm you. Also, if you shoot an intruder in the back, you may not be able to use the “Stand Your Ground” law.
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Work with a Criminal Defense
Even if you shoot someone in self-defense, you should still talk to a criminal defense attorney. Cases are rarely as cut and dry as they seem. An experienced attorney can protect your rights and ensure that you get the most fair and just outcome possible.
For criminal defense legal support, schedule a time to talk to TJ Grimaldi today. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023.