Permissible Uses of Non-Deadly Force

In Florida, “Defense of Property” is a subcategory of “justifiable use of non-deadly force.”  It arises where a person resorts to a violent or forcible act to protect or preserve rights in real or personal property. If successfully raised at trial in Florida, Defense of Property operates as a complete defense and a bar to criminal liability.

Florida law provides that a person is justified in the use of non-deadly force against another person for the defense of property if the following three facts are proven:

  1. The other person was trespassing or otherwise wrongfully interfering with land (real property) or personal property;
  2. The land or personal property was lawfully in the defendant’s possession, or in the possession of his or her immediate family or household, or in the possession of some person whose property the defendant was under a legal duty to protect; and
  3. The defendant reasonably believed that his or her use of force was necessary to prevent or terminate the other person’s wrongful behavior.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense involving a violent act, such as battery,  assault, domestic violence, aggravated battery, or aggravated assault, and believe that you were acting in defense of property, contact our Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys to discuss your case. You may have legal defenses to contest the charge, obtain a dismissal, or minimize potential penalties.