The right to use deadly force in self-defense has been established in Florida since 1892. However, in 2005, Florida legislatures passed a law referred to as the Stand Your Ground Law that allows people to use deadly force without first retreating. The Stand Your Ground defense can be used to avoid conviction for committing a violent act against another person under certain circumstances.
At Stechschulte Nell, our Tampa criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience with the Stand Your Ground defense. If you have been accused of a crime and believe your actions were justified by the behavior of your alleged victim, contact us today to learn more about the Stand Your Ground defense.
Understanding the Stand Your Ground Defense
In Florida, common law established in an 1892 case gave citizens the right to defend themselves using deadly force when facing imminent danger. However, under the traditional common law rule, one had to attempt to avoid the danger by retreating if necessary. In 2005, the legislature passed the Stand Your Ground law and eliminated the duty to retreat. Under the Stand Your Ground law, you can use deadly force without retreating if:
- You reasonably believe the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent great bodily harm or imminent death to yourself or you reasonably believe the use of such force is necessary to stop an imminent forcible felony from being committed.
- You are acting in the case of a vehicle or home invasion. Under the traditional common law “Castle Doctrine,” you could use deadly force in your own home without retreating if you had a reasonable belief that the use of such force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily harm. However, the Stand Your Ground law establishes that the reasonableness of your belief that deadly force is necessary is presumed as long as you are within your dwelling or vehicle.
The Stand Your Ground law does not apply if:
- You are somewhere that you have no right to be
- You are in the process of committing a crime, or
- You provoked violence against yourself on purpose
You will have the burden of proving that the Stand Your Ground defense should apply and that your use of deadly force was reasonable. To learn more about the Stand Your Ground defense and whether the defense may work in your case, contact Tampa criminal defense attorney Ben Stechschulte today.