Florida is one of those states that still allows for use of deadly force in order to stop the commission of a felony, which played out in this story out of Florida:
Authorities do not plan to file charges against a Florida orange grove owner who fatally shot a 21-year-old woman, saying he is protected under the state’s controversial “no retreat” law.
But the woman’s boyfriend faces second-degree murder charges in her death, because the woman was shot to death during an alleged felony — the theft of an SUV.
This has nothing to do with the “no retreat law”.Â Florida law allows for, and has always allowed for, the use of deadly force to stop a felony in progress.Â In fact, this was common law, as I understand it, even going back to English common law.
At common law, the duty to retreat did not apply to someone stopping a felony (then felonies actually were serious crimes, unlike today when it’s anything politicians disapprove of strongly).Â Duty to retreat generally only applied to individuals who were brawlers, or engaged in some other kind of non-felonious dispute.Â Those individuals were expected to retreat before resorting to deadly force.Â But if someone pulled a deadly weapon to rob you, you were justified in shooting him dead on the spot, as you were stopping a felony.
Fast forward a bit, and states started to take the common law justification of self-defense and put it into statutory law.Â A lot of states, when they did this, took out the common law justification for felony, since these were done at a time when professional police forces were becoming common, and it was felt that apprehending and stopping felonies was a more a job for the police than private citizen.Â The effect this created was that one had a duty to retreat in all circumstances.Â Under American law, retreat is only necessary when the actor could have obtained complete safety by doing so, but it is still an element of the law, even if someone pulls a knife on you and demands your belongings, or even in a carjacking situation.Â A prosecutor could, in theory, argue that you didn’t need to shoot the carjacker when you could have just driven off.
Some states, however, did create statutory justifications for stopping commission of a felony, and Florida is one of them.Â This doesn’t have anything to do with castle doctrine.Â Castle doctrine laws are meant to address the carjacking situation I spoke of above.Â They eliminate the duty to retreat from a place you have a legal right to be, and establishes that deadly force may be used on a home invader, without having to first ascertain whether he presents a deadly threat.Â This is not a new idea.Â It used to be, many years ago, common law.
But don’t expect the media to do their research for you.