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Top 10 Questions About Florida's Castle Doctrine Law

August 03, 20219 min read

What's Up Sheepdogs? Ryan here with Tampa Carry.

Question #1 Does the "castle doctrine" apply to front yards and back yards?

No, the Florida castle doctrine law only applies to your dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle. The Florida castle doctrine law does not extend to your property line. 

Question #2 If you are in an Airbnb and someone trespasses, are you protected by the castle doctrine?

Yes, the castle doctrine extends to any dwelling or residence where you have a right to be. This would include a hotel room, Airbnb, vacation rental, or rental home. 

Question #3 How does the castle doctrine law differ from the stand your ground law?

First let me explain that what most people refer to as the stand your ground law is more accurately referred to as the Justifiable Use of Force statute, Florida Statute 776.012(2). This statute outlines the requirements a person must meet before using or threatening the use of deadly force. These requirements are: 

  • A reasonable belief of imminent death, or

  • A reasonable belief of great bodily harm 

  • A reasonable belief of the imminent commission of a forcible felony 

  • The use of deadly force is necessary

  • You MUST be in a place where you have a right to be 

  • You CANNOT be engaged in criminal activity

While Florida’s Justifiable Use of Force statute applies to the use of force in any location the victim has a legal right to be, the castle doctrine requires the victim to be located inside of a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle before the use of force is permitted.  

Question #4 Does the castle doctrine give me the right to use deadly force in a friend’s or relative’s home? 

Yes, the castle doctrine extends to any dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle where you have a right to be.  

Question #5 Can the castle doctrine and duty to retreat co-exist? 

Yes, the castle doctrine law outlines specific requirements that must be met before an individual has no duty to retreat. Needless to say, if these requirements have not been met, the individual is required to retreat. 

Question #6 How can I lose protection under the castle doctrine law?

There are four ways that the presumptions granted under the castle doctrine can be eliminated. 

First is if the person who entered your dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle has a legal right to be there: Florida Statute 776.013(3)(a)

Second is if the person being removed is a child or grandchild, and the person removing the child or grandchild has lawful custody: Florida Statute 776.013(3)(b).

Third, if the person who uses or threatens to use deadly force is engaging in criminal activity:

Florida Statute 776.013(3)(c)

Fourth, if the person against whom defensive force was used was a law enforcement officer: F.S 776.013(3)(d)

Question #7 Does the castle doctrine extend to an RV, motorhome, trailer, or hotel room? 

Yes, Florida Statutes 776.013(3) and 776.013(4) both use the term “dwelling” to define a location where a person has the right to defend themselves. Below you will find the statutory definition for a dwelling.  

Dwelling F.S. 776.013 (5)(a) - means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night. 

According to this statute, a dwelling would include an RV, motorhome, trailer, hotel room, or even a tent.  

Question #8 Does the castle doctrine allow me to stop someone from stealing or breaking into my vehicle?

I want you to imagine for a second that it's 2 in the morning. All of a sudden you get a notification on your phone. So, reluctantly, you stop spooning your wife and you roll over and realize it's your home surveillance cameras.

They just picked up movement at the front of your house. So you look and, oh my gosh, somebody is breaking into your car. You can't believe it.

Can you use a firearm to stop this bad guy from breaking into your car according to Florida concealed carry laws? Let's ask ourselves the big questions. 

How Can This Situation Be Avoided?

You know, you really can't. These scumbags are everywhere. They do it every night. They're breaking into people's cars because it's just what they do. I don't know what you're getting. Most people don't keep good stuff in their car, but they're doing it. I don't think there's a way you can avoid it. 

What Level of Force Can Be Used?

I definitely do not believe a firearm is justified at all. Could we go out there and use non-deadly force to protect our personal property? Sure, the castle doctrine does permit that. However, is it really smart? Somebody who's willing to break into your car at 2 in the morning is probably not a stable person, obviously, right? They're probably trying to feed a drug habit, and if you're the individual standing in their way, you may get stabbed, shot, or beaten. And is it really worth it? 

I think the better option to stop this car break-in would be to turn on the lights in your house, maybe to scream out of your window so you're still inside and protected, right? Maybe flip on some of your outside lights. That will scare the crap out of the bad guy and get them running down the road. And at this time, you should also be on the phone with the police.

Does That his Situation Fall Under the Castle Doctrine Law?

It does not because if you remember, the castle doctrine very clearly states that the vehicle must be occupied before you're allowed to use or threaten the use of deadly force. And it has to be occupied by you, not occupied by the bad guy, right?

What Would You Do In This Situation?

It's important to create a plan. Make sure you've thought about I before you rush into it, make a hasty decision, and end up getting in a lot of trouble.

Question #9 What if the burglar doesn’t have a weapon? 

What if a burglar is in your house but they do not have a weapon? If the burglar enters my house unlawfully and by force, it doesn't matter if they have a weapon. According to Florida Statute 776.013, you have two massive presumptions under this law. The first presumption is that you have a right to stand your ground. A person who is in a dwelling or residence in which the person has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use a firearm. The second presumption is you have a right to believe that the attacker is planning to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence. As outlined in Florida Statute 776.013 subsection four, 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 intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence. 

So, the bottom line is, it really doesn't matter if the bad guy has a weapon. If the bad guy entered unlawfully and by force, and your use of deadly force is a reasonable response, then we are allowed to do whatever we need to do to keep ourselves and our family members safe from this evil person.

Question #10 Can I open the front door with a gun in my hand? 

You cannot open the door with a gun in your hand. You know, a couple months ago I got a phone call from a criminal defense attorney here in Tampa, and he asked me if I would be willing to be an expert witness for a case that was going to trial that next week. So I said, "Sure, I think that would be cool. So, tell me about the case and let's see what we can negotiate here." He said his client was in his home and he got a really loud bang on the front door. His client was scared. He thought something bad was happening, so he grabbed an AK-47, walked to the front door, and opened it assuming it was a bad guy. Except it was the FedEx driver. So this man decided to set the AK down on a table to sign for his package, and the FedEx driver left. To this man's surprise, the police arrived at his home a few moments later, and he was arrested for brandishing the firearm. Brandishing a firearm means displaying the firearm in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner not necessary in self-defense. 

As this attorney was telling me this, I said, "Okay, so, what exactly are you wanting from me, sir?" He said, "Well, we want you to stand in front of the jury, and we want you to tell the jury that it is very natural for a gun owner to open the door with a gun in their hand.” Are you for real? I said "That's not normal, dude. That's not what normal gun owners do." I said, "If your client was so afraid of the person knocking on the front door, why did he open it?" If you're really that afraid, if you really think somebody is trying to kick your door in, wouldn't the natural thing be to barricade yourself in a secure area with a gun pointed at the door, on the phone with 911? Why would you open it? It's just not logical at all. 

I turned down this opportunity because I'm not going to lie, and I think what this man did by opening the door with a gun in his hand is very, very stupid. It is illegal, and we have to be much smarter than that. It's okay to have a gun in your waistband when you're opening the door, but it should not be in your hands unless you have a legal right to use or threaten the use of deadly force in that instance.

That's all I have for today. So until next time keep training and stay safe...

Ryan G. Thomas

P.S. You’re one step away from getting your Florida concealed carry permit….FAST & EASY…

And for a limited time you can watch the concealed carry course online for free... Click here to get started...

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Ryan G. Thomas

Ryan believes a trained and aware citizen is the best way to minimize crime, victims and senseless acts of violence. Ryan is a veteran of the United States Air Force and a father of three beautiful children. Ryan and his wife Tiffany met while doing inner city ministry for Operation Explosion in Tampa 12 years ago. He is passionate about God, his family, and his community. Ryan has a passion for the 2nd amendment and believes all Americans should have the right and ability to protect themselves and their families.

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