U.S. Law Shield of Florida Independent Program Attorney David Katz:
What happens when you come home and catch a burglar fleeing your home with your property? Can you use deadly force to stop them? What if you do not see any of your property in their possession? Does it make a difference if it's night versus daytime? What if it's your neighbor's home and you see someone fleeing?
Under Florida law, the answer is simple. You cannot use deadly force in any of the situations above. Florida law allows you to use deadly force to stop the imminent commission of a forcible felony. Burglary is one of the listed forcible felonies. However, in the situation described above, the burglar is fleeing after the commission of the crime.
Florida law does not allow you to use deadly force to keep someone from fleeing or getting away with it. If you see someone fleeing your property or your home, be the best witness you can be. Call the police and describe the person, including which way they went. Make a detailed list of the property stolen, including serial numbers. If you use deadly force to prevent the escape of a criminal, even if they have your property, you will be the one facing the most serious criminal charges.
One final note, in this day and age it is very easy to make a list of serial numbers from your valuable items. Take your smart phone and take a picture of the serial number on your firearms, computers, televisions and other expensive items. These numbers will help provide the proof needed to catch the bad guy and may be the difference between the bad guy paying for taking your stuff or getting away with the crime.
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