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Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer > Blog > Battery > Florida Court Upholds Condo Owner’s “Stand Your Ground” Immunity

Florida Court Upholds Condo Owner’s “Stand Your Ground” Immunity


Florida law grants any person immunity from criminal prosecution for the justifiable use–or threatened use–of non-deadly force to prevent others from committing tortious or criminal interference with their personal property. This is a form of what is commonly referred to as “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) immunity. To be clear, SYG does not authorize any use of force in such situations, only what is reasonable and proportionate under the circumstances.

Thrown Duct Tape, Swatted Cell Phone “Reasonable” Response to Unwelcome Code Inspectors

A recent decision from the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal, Paese v. State, illustrates how this type of SYG immunity works in practice. In this case, prosecutors charged the defendant with felony battery against a building code inspector. The defendant lived in a high-rise condo. Her unit included a private elevator that required a key fob for access.

One day, the defendant saw four men in the elevator, which was open. She recognized one of the men as the condo’s property manager. She did not recognize the other three men. They were actually code inspectors, but they did not wear uniforms or identify themselves as inspectors to the defendant. Nevertheless, the defendant observed the men taking pictures of the inside of her unit.

The manager had previously asked the defendant for permission to access her unit, which she had refused. Shocked by the presence of the four men despite her refusal to grant consent, she demanded they leave. They refused. In response, the defendant threw a roll of duct tape towards the elevator. She then reached into the elevator and swatted down one of the code inspector’s cell phones. On that basis, the state pursued the felony battery charge.

The trial court refused to grant the defendant’s motion for SYG immunity. On appeal, the Fourth District noted the trial judge applied the incorrect legal standard in assessing the motion. The trial court evaluated the defendant’s request under another part of the SYG law that applies to the use or threat of deadly force, which was not the case here.

Under the correct standard, the Fourth District continued, the defendant’s actions were justified. It was “undisputed” that the defendant did not consent to the entry of the four men into her private unit. And the code inspectors committed “tortious interference” with the defendant’s private property by taking pictures of the insider of her condo. Under the circumstances, the defendant’s use of force in response–throwing the duct tape and swatting down a phone–was reasonable and proportionate.

Contact the Joshi Law Firm Today

Even a misdemeanor battery charge can lead to jail time in Florida. So it is essential to explore all possible avenues of defense when facing such accusations in court. Our experienced Orlando battery attorney can review your case, advise you of your options, and assist you in preparing a vigorous defense. Contact the Joshi Law Firm, P.A., today to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our staff.



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