It’s almost that time of year again. Soon the neighborhood will be decorated with skeletons, mummies, and other creatures of the night. Children dressed in costume will be going door-to-door looking for candy and neighbors and schools will have costume parties or other events.
With many still concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional events are being altered and many are looking for new ways to hand out candy while social distancing, but no government restrictions are in place that mandate any changes to your celebration. Before you plan an elaborate Halloween costume and set out the carved pumpkin on your doorstep, let’s discuss the mischief and dangers that lurk around the Halloween season…
Wearing A Mask While Carrying
One concern many may have is whether or not they may concealed carry their firearm if choosing to wear a mask for health reasons or as part of their costume on Halloween.
No law in Florida prohibits the carrying of a firearm for self-defense purposes while wearing a mask for health and safety reasons or as part of a Halloween costume.
Costumes, Accessories, and Weapons of Self-Defense
Next, let’s discuss costume do’s and don’ts. Florida does not allow the open carry of a firearm except under extremely limited circumstances. Therefore, even if you are dressed as a Sheriff or other law enforcement officer for Halloween, do not make the mistake of openly carrying your firearm as part of the costume. Further, remember that if you do not have a concealed weapon license, you cannot conceal carry a weapon even as a prop for your costume.
Florida’s carry laws do not change on Halloween. If you could not carry a firearm on any other day, you have no new rights. Further, those who can carry have no additional limitations placed on their carry rights because of the holiday. Be careful, however, if you are attending a Halloween event in a prohibited location, such as at a school or on school property, as even if it is a part of your costume, firearms are not typically allowed on school property.
Defending Against Halloween Mischief
What can you do if you encounter mischief-makers who are loitering or vandalizing your property? In Florida, you can use force, not deadly force to remove a trespasser from your property (or in general to protect your property), although the best thing to do would be to call the police and allow them to handle the situation. If you cannot wait for the police to arrive, under Florida law, you can physically remove a trespasser from your property or protect your property with force that is not likely to cause death or great bodily harm.
Many ask if the Castle Doctrine’s additional protections apply to Halloween trespassers. Although the case law extends the protections of the castle doctrine to the curtilage of your home, unless a person has used force to illegally enter your property, the Castle Doctrine would not apply.
Therefore, the answer is no, the Castle Doctrine offers no additional protection against a simple trespasser. However, if someone has illegally and forcibly entered the curtilage of your home by kicking open your fence, for example, you will be afforded the additional protections of Florida’s Castle Doctrine, including the presumptions that:
- You held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to yourself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another; and
- The person who unlawfully and forcibly entered or attempted to enter is doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.
For any questions regarding activities and home defense during Halloween, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.