Castle Doctrine vs Stand Your Ground

Castle Doctrine

Castle Doctrine vs Stand Your Ground

People often confuse the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws. Although both laws are found in Florida Statute 776.013, there are differences between the two.

The Castle Doctrine

The Castle Doctrine is a very powerful defensive tool for those who are forced to defend themselves in their homes. This law is based in the concept that a person should be free to defend their castle from intrusion with all force necessary. In Florida the Castle doctrine applies in 3 distinct types of locations. These locations include: dwellings, residences, and occupied vehicles. The Castle doctrine gives an individual who is in their dwelling, residence or vehicle two powerful presumptions.

The Castle Doctrine – the 1st presumption

The first presumption is that a person will be presumed to have held a reasonable belief of death or great bodily harm when an intruder unlawfully and with force enters their dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle. This presumption also applies if the intruder is in the process of or attempting to remove someone under their care from a dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle against their will.

The Castle Doctrine – the 2nd presumption

The second presumption is that the intruder who unlawfully and with force entered their dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle did so with the intent to commit a violent act.

The Castle Doctrine – The effect of the presumptions

When a person is forced to defend themselves in their own home, not only are they presumed to be innocent, but a jury must presume that the defender’s belief that death or great bodily harm was imminent is reasonable, unless the prosecutor overcomes that presumption with evidence. Further, it is presumed that the person who invaded the defenders castle was there to commit violence. When these two presumptions are added together, a castle defender has a very strong argument that their actions in defending their castle was reasonable and therefore legal.

Stand Your Ground

Though traditionally, stand your ground has been included in the castle doctrine, it exists outside of it as well. In terms of the Castle Doctrine, stand your ground means that a person does not need to flee from their dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle if attacked, before using force, or deadly force if appropriate. However, the Florida Legislature also wrote stand you ground language into our self-defense justification statute Florida Statute 776.012. The stand your ground language in Florida Statute 776.012 and in Florida Statute 776.013 does not provide an individual with any presumptions like the castle doctrine does.

Stand Your Ground – In a Castle Doctrine Location – No retreat required

Instead, stand your ground gives an individual who is in a dwelling, residence or vehicle the ability to stand their ground and meet force with force including deadly force, without the need to first attempt to retreat. In other words, if you are home and someone kicks in your front door you do not have to run out the back door. You can remain in your home and defend yourself and your family. The stand your ground law found in Florida Statute 776.013(3) only applies to a person who is in a dwelling residence or vehicle.

Stand Your Ground – When you are not in your castle

However, similar stand your ground language can be found in Florida’s Self Defense Statute, Florida Statute 776.012. This statute applies in any location including locations not covered by the Castle Doctrine. Florida Statute 776.012 (1) applies to non-deadly force and does not require you to retreat before using non-deadly force in answer to non-deadly force. Florida Statute 776.012(2) applies to deadly force and does require you to retreat before using deadly force in certain circumstances. You must retreat prior to using deadly force if you are engaged in criminal activity or are in a place you do not have a right to be. However, you must only do so if you have the opportunity and can retreat safely without exposing yourself to harm.

To learn more about the Castle Doctrine in Florida please see the following articles and videos on our website:

Can I Lose the presumptions of Reasonableness?

The Castle Doctrine in Florida

To learn more about Stand Your Ground laws please see: Stand Your Ground in Florida

To learn what you need to know about Florida Gun Laws please view our webinars:

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