FORCIBLE FELONIES

 

The information below provides, in layperson’s terms, a brief overview of Florida’s statutes governing Forcible Felonies. The following is intended only as a general guide, and is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of Florida’s laws. Please consult the statutory provisions directly or your lawyer for a comprehensive understanding of the laws outlined below.

 

Forcible Felony (§ 776.08):  Under Florida law, a “Forcible felony” means treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.

 

Murder (§ 782.04): An offender commits murder if that person, unlawfully kills another and such act is either premeditated or occurs while carrying out a number of other forcible felonies or during the attempt to commit one. Also, if an offender commits an imminently dangerous act, with a depraved state of mind and with disregard to human life, then that act is considered murder, even if death was not premeditated. 
 

Manslaughter (§  782.07):  Is the killing of a person, which is not legally justified or excusable, under Florida law.  If a person hires someone to kill another or the death results from culpable negligence, then that act is also considered manslaughter, if not justified or excusable (ie As in lawful defense of self or other(s)).

 

Aggravated Assault (§ 784.011 & § 784.021): Occurs when a person intentionally threatens to do harm to another and appears to be able to carry out the threat such that it creates a well-founded fear that harm is immediate and imminent, and either commits such assault with: 1). a deadly weapon, which is a weapon capable of inflicting death or serious bodily injury, but without the intent to kill, or 2). the intent to commit a felony.  The victim is not contacted/injured but believes that they will be.

 

Simple Assault is the unlawful threat to do harm to another, with the apparent ability to do so, without the intent to commit battery and does not include the use of a deadly weapon.  The victim genuinely fears that they are about to be battered.  A person telling a victim that they are going to punch them, standing close enough to do so, and puling their fist back as if to strike the victim is a simple assault.

(THIS IS NOT A FORCIBLE FELONY)

 

Aggravated Battery (§ 784.045): Occurs if an offender intentionally causes bodily harm by touching or striking another against his/her and involves the use of a deadly weapon.  That weapon must be capable of causing death, serious bodily harm, disfigurement or disability.

 

Simple Battery is unlawful touching (ie. punch, grab, any strike) that does not include the use of a deadly weapon.  Simple battery can include being punched in the face or aggressively pushed to the ground.  Unlike simple assault, simple battery requires the victim to be touched against their will.  

(THIS IS NOT A FORCIBLE FELONY)

 

Burglary (§ 801.02):  Unlawfully entering a home, a structure, a conveyance (vehicle), or vessel (boat) with the intent to commit a crime (ie that crime is not always theft, but can be any crime, even a misdemeanor.)  Except as noted in the statutes and summarized in the next sentence, this does not apply if the premises are used as public spaces or if the offender is licensed or invited to enter or remain on the premises. However, if the offender is invited but A). remains after permission is revoked, B). secretly intends to commit a crime (felony or misdemeanor) or C). commits, or attempts, another forcible felony, then the offender’s actions still constitute burglary. Burglary does not always include force to enter, rather, it can be via an open or unlocked door.  

 

A suspect does not have to be fully inside any of the above to commit burglary.  Reaching into a residence, conveyance, etc. to commit any crime (ie theft, battery, etc) is still a burglary.  Trespassing is a necessary component of burglary, but the intent to commit another crime makes it any burglary.  

 

Trespassing is entering a dwelling, business, structure, conveyance, or vessel unlawfully without the apparent intent to commit any other crime, and is usually a misdemeanor, unless the property is a designated construction site or other specifically designated restricted area. Possession of a firearm while trespassing on posted property is a felony.  A stranger walking into another's residence and sitting down to watch TV is not a burglary, but is potentially an indicator of a mental health issue requiring law enforcement intervention.  Confronting that subject may be too risky, so call 911.

(THIS IS NOT A FORCIBLE FELONY)

 

Robbery (§ 812.13):  Occurs when an offender uses force or the threatened use of force, violence, or assault to steal money or other property from another with the intent to deprive, either temporarily or permanently, the victim of money or such other property (or puts such person in fear of having his/her money or property stolen).

 

Sexual Battery (§ 794.011):  An offender in any manner (orally, anally or vaginally) penetrates another sexually, or uses any other object to commit such act without the victim’s consent.

 

Kidnapping (§ 787.01-02):  Means to forcibly, secretly, or by threat confine, abduct, or imprison another person, without authority and against her/his will, with the intent to: 1). hold the victim for ransom or as a shield or hostage; 2). commit or facilitate a felony; 3). inflict bodily harm or to terrorize the victim or another person; or 4) interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function. [Confining a child under 13, against his or her will, without the consent of their parent or legal guardian is also a kidnapping.]  

 

Home Invasion Robbery (§ 812.135): Occurs when offender(s) enters a dwelling (ie residence) with the intent to commit, or attempt to commit, a robbery of the resident(s) inside the dwelling. If the offender carries a firearm or other weapon, then it is a 1st degree felony. The unlawful entry does not have to include the use of force to enter (ie Open front door). Burglary, Aggravated Assault/battery, theft are all components of home invasion robbery.

 

Carjacking (§ 812.133):  Occurs when the offender(s) intentionally, by the use of force, violence, assault, or fear, takes a motor vehicle from another with the intent to deprive that person, or the actual owner, of the vehicle. A victim of carjacking does not literally need to be sitting in the vehicle targeted by the carjacker(s). That victim must only be in very close proximity to the vehicle and have control of that vehicle (ie possess keys/key-fob remote).

 

Arson (§ 806.01:  Occurs when a person intentionally and illegally, or while committing a felony, using fire or explosives, damages: a). any dwelling, b). any structure, or the contents thereof, where people are normally present [such as jails, prisons, or detention centers, hospitals, nursing homes or other health care facilities, department stores, office buildings, businesses, churches or educational institutions] during hours when they are normally occupied, or c) any other structure that such person would have had reasonable grounds to believe was occupied (ie a residence). Any other act of arson not specifically set forth above is 2nd degree arson.

 

A structure is a building of any kind, any enclosed area with a roof over it, any real property, or adjacent structures, any tent, or other portable building, and any vehicle, vessel, watercraft or aircraft.

 

Aggravated Stalking (§ 784.048): An offender commits aggravated stalking when he/she, with bad intentions, repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks a person, and either: 1). credibly threatens that person, 2).violates an order of protection relating to repeat violence, or any other court-imposed order which prohibits contacting or coming into contact with the victim or the victim’s property.

 

(a) Harassment- Engaging in behavior directed at a specific person, which causes significant emotional distress for no legitimate purpose. (THIS IS NOT A FORCIBLE FELONY)

 

(b) Cyberstalking- Using words, images, language or email to communicate electronically with a specific person, which causes extreme emotional distress to that person for no legitimate purpose other than to threaten or harass that person.

 

A credible threat is a verbal or nonverbal threat that places another in reasonable fear for their safety, their family’s safety, or their close associates’ safety.

 

Engaging in the foregoing, even if only for a short period of time, demonstrates continuity of purpose to engage in aggravated stalking.

 

Aircraft piracy (§ 860.16): When an offender, unlawfully using force or violence, or the threat of either, and with wrongful intent,takes or takes control of any aircraft containing a non-consenting person(s) within Florida.

 

Treason (§ 876.32):  Treason against the State of Florida occurs when war is declared against the State, or when aiding someone engaged in such act, and/or any attempt to overthrow the state.

 

Placing/Discharging of a Destructive Device or Bomb (§ 790.161): When a person intentionally and illegally makes, possesses, throws, places, or discharges any destructive device or tries to do so: if 1). The intent is to cause property damage or bodily injury; 2). It results in actual property damage or bodily injury; or 3). It causes the death of another.

Destructive devices include a bomb, grenade, mine, rocket, missile, pipe-bomb, or similar device explosive or incendiary device, or poison gas;a device assembled from a combination of parts designed or intended to use as a destructive device; any device declared a destructive device by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms;any weapon which will, is designed to, or may easily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of any explosive and which has a barrel with a bore of one-half inch or more in diameter; and ammunition for such destructive devices (but excluding shotgun shells or any other ammunition designed for use in a firearm other than a destructive device and such other devices specifically set forth in the applicable statutes).

 

The above definitions represent simple summaries of the forcible felonies and some of the misdemeanor crimes sometimes confused as forcible felonies.  Ultimately it is up to you to ensure that you have a full knowledge of and understanding of any and all laws associated with concealed carry and the use of deadly force in defense of yourself or and/or anyone else. Ignorance of a law restricting the use of such force does not and will not authorize you to use deadly force inappropriately. Ignorant use of deadly force will likely lead to criminal and/or civil liability on your part.  You only have yourself to blame if you failed to learn the laws thoroughly.

 

If years from now you are not fully knowledgeable about when you can or cannot use deadly force and you use it when it's not appropriate, you are done.  If you don't use it when it's absolutely necessary, then you or another innocent party might be done.  Get how important this stuff is?

 

Most anyone can learn to safely and effectively shoot firearms.  However, it's the safest and most effective weapons handlers who have a complete grasp of the intellectual portions of the laws and regulations regarding possessing, carrying, and utilizing concealed firearms for defensive purposes.  Don't be like the majority of concealed carriers.  Please strive to be the best of the carriers and learn as much as you can.

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