Self Defense in Florida
In Florida, Self Defense is referred to as the justifiable use of force. In simple terms, the defense allows a person to use force, sometimes deadly force, to protect one's self, one's property, or another person, so long as the force used is proportionate to the threat faced.
Florida's Stand Your Ground Law
Traditionally, if a person was anywhere but their home, the Self Defense law required a person to attempt to first retreat before engaging an aggressor. And to further complicate matters, the defense could only be raised at trial. But in October of 2005, Florida passed the Stand Your Ground Law, which dramatically changed the legal landscape of self defense law.
Under the Stand Your Ground Law, a person who is attacked has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand their ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if it is reasonably believed necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
Also, the Stand Your Ground Law now allows a person to raise the issue of Self Defense both at a Pretrial Hearing and at trial. As a result, if a judge finds that your actions were justified, the Judge is required to dismiss the charges and no trial is required. If the judge does not find your actions were justified, the defense can still be presented to a jury and they can make their own independent determination of whether your actions were justified.
Justifiable Use of Deadly Force
A person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
- It is reasonably believed that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony (i.e. Robbery).
- It is being used against a person who is unlawfully and forcefully breaking in, or has unlawfully and forcibly broken into a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle.
Exception to the Use of Deadly Force
Deadly Force cannot be used against:
- A lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder (Unless there is a restraining order in place).
- A parent who is retrieving a child or grandchild for whom they have lawful custody (Meaning you can't shoot an ex-spouse who is picking up children for the weekend and then claim they broke in.)
- The person who uses defensive force is engaged in unlawful activity or using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity.
- A known law enforcement officer who is engaged in a legal duty.
Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime in Florida and you were defending yourself, please contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.
The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.