On June 20 a Fruitland Park man killed a 26-year-old man and convicted felon with a 20-gauge shotgun following a confrontation at his home.

Prosecutors recently decided the act was justified.

The deceased was apparently drunk and belligerent when he entered a 32-year-old man’s home, revisiting a feud that had been escalating for a few weeks involving his alleged ex-girlfriend and the man’s wife.

The arguments between neighbors allegedly began when the 32-year-old man’s wife accused the woman living next door of breaking into their home and stealing prescription pills in May 2011.

A restraining order was sought following a confrontation between the females, but a circuit judge denied the request.

On the night of the shooting, the 32-year-old man’s wife apparently took pictures of the cars visiting her neighbor’s home. Shortly after midnight, the 26-year-old knocked on the neighbor’s door to ask about the photos.

The man answered the door and the pair began to argue. He asked the man to leave his property several times, but the man refused. He shot the man when he walked into his home and attempted to grab the gun.

According to reports, the deceased had a blood-alcohol content of .24, three times the legal driving limit, and cocaine in his system.

The man claims he did not even know the 26-year-old he shot since the feud had been with his ex-girlfriend. He told police he was trying to protect his four children who were in the house during the incident.

Prosecutors concluded that the shooting was justified under the “Castle Doctrine” and have declined to charge the man.

In the state of Florida, the Castle Doctrine provides a person with the ability to protect himself or herself from an intruder or attacker. Under this law, a person has the right to use force against an invader to protect his or her home, property, place of work, life or other person’s life. The Castle Doctrine protects the person from criminal or civil liability, as long as the person was acting within the guidelines of the legal principle.

Florida law provides a person with the right to defend themselves with deadly force against an intruder or attacker when faced with the following situations:

  1. A person illegally entered or attempted to enter your home, vehicle or place of work exercising force.
  2. A person attempts to commit or committed a forcible felony, such as sexual battery, burglary, kidnapping or robbery within your home, vehicle or place of work.
  3. Witnessing a forcibly felony being attempted or committed against another person that demands assistance using deadly force.

In addition to the above, the following must be true to ensure protection under the Castle Doctrine:

  • You did not attempt to or commit a crime when lethal force was exercised
  • You in no way took action to provoke another person into attacking you

While the Castle Doctrine offers exemption from criminal and civil penalties for the injury or death of the offender in certain scenarios, sometimes a person standing their ground against a forcible felony may be wrongfully charged. In these cases it is best to consult with a criminal defense lawyer to make sure your rights under the law are fully protected. If the State deems your reaction as unreasonable and over excessive, you can be criminally charged. The Villages Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can determine if the Castle Doctrine is a viable defense in your case. We can investigate the aspects of your case and work hard to prove your actions were justifiable under the law.

If you acted in self-defense in Marion, Lake or Sumter County, contact The Villages Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton online or call 352-369-5334.