Florida Statute 776.013 allows a person to use deadly force against another when that other person was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, OR if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle: so long as the person using defensive force knew or had reason to believe than an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
The key here is that the law allows the use of deadly force if the vehicle is occupied. When your car is parked outside your home and no none is in it, it’s just another piece of property and therefore Florida Statute 776.031 applies and not the Castle Doctrine. If the person takes off with your property from the car before you can stop him, you are justified in running after him to get your property back. But if you do catch up to him, you can only use non-deadly force to get your property back.
I highly recommend if the person is running away, consider other options besides trying to chase them down, such as calling 911. The only time a person is justified in using deadly force to protect property is if he or she reasonably believes such force is needed to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony, such as a robbery. But in that situation, you are really protecting yourself, not the property.
An example of this would be if you pulled up in your driveway and someone comes to your window with a gun and tries to carjack you. In that situation, the attacker is attempting to take your property, but because he’s trying to take it by committing a forcible felony, you would be allowed to use deadly force.
It is critical that you completely understand these legal concepts. If you have any questions about your rights to defend your property or any other self-defense law in Florida, don’t hesitate to call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.