Use of Self-defense and Stand Your Ground

A controversial area is the self-defense and stand your ground laws. Proponents argue that a person should not have to retreat when confronted with an individual about to commit violence against that person. People against these laws argue that they only serve to escalate hostile situations and increase the chance that people will get hurt. Whatever your personal feelings on these types of laws are, it is important to understand how they operate in Florida.

Defense of Person

According to Florida law, a person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another person when and to the extent the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend against the imminent use of unlawful force. A person may also use such conduct to defend a third person. Further, there is no duty to retreat.

The use of deadly force is acceptable if the person reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself, or another person. Deadly force may also be used to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A forcible felony includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Murder;
  2. Manslaughter;
  3. Sexual battery;
  4. Carjacking;
  5. Burglary;
  6. Robbery; and
  7. Kidnapping

As with using non-deadly force, there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force. A person has the right to stand their ground if that person is not engaged in criminal activity and is in a place that he or she has a right to be.

Home Protection

The law considers it important to protect the right to safeguard one’s home from unlawful entry. As a result, the home protection statute states that a presumption exists that a person held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm when using defensive force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if:

  1. The person against whom the defensive force was used was unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
  2. The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or act was occurring or had occurred.

The presumption does not apply if:

  1. The person against whom the defensive force is used has a right to be in the property;
  2. The person sought to be removed is in the lawful custody or under the legal guardianship of the individual defensive force is used against;
  3. The person using defensive force is engaged in criminal activity; or
  4. The person against whom defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer.

A person attacked in their home has the right to stand their ground, use deadly force, and does not have a duty to retreat.

West Palm Beach Defense Attorneys

If you have been charged with a crime, it is possible that you were acting under circumstances that would justify your use of force. It is important to discuss your case with experienced South Florida defense attorneys. At Farkas & Crowley, P.A., we have been through these types of cases before and want to use our expertise to help you. If you have any questions, contact us today.