When it comes to your home, your property, your loved ones, and even yourself, you should have a right to protect them or yourself, even during a crime. This act is self-defense, and under Florida law, you have this right to protect yourself, even by use of force, if you feel that you are in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death.
Self-defense claims are a part of Florida’s affirmative defenses and can be quite complex and adaptable. It is important to know your rights in a threatening situation. In this article, the attorneys at Stechschulte Nell Law explain the basics of self-defense in Florida.
What is Self-Defense?
Legally, the definition of self-defense varies from state to state, but in this article, we will discuss self-defense in Florida. It is important to know that just because something is legal in Florida, does not make it legal in other states.
In Florida, self-defense is the justifiable use of force. Self-defense is an affirmative defense that allows a person to use force, non-deadly or deadly, to protect their property, another person, or themself, but the use of force must be comparable to the threat that is faced.
When a self-defense claim is raised, the defendant is acknowledging that a violent act occurred on their part but is hoping to avoid the criminal liability of this otherwise unlawful violent act, because they acted on the grounds that it was necessary to deter the other person’s forthcoming use of unlawful force.
There are two types of self-defense in Florida: non-deadly force and deadly force.
Non-Deadly Force vs. Deadly Force
Florida allows for the use of non-deadly force and deadly force as two types of affirmative defenses. These defenses are used in hopes of avoiding the criminal liability that comes with what would otherwise be an unlawful act.
To assert the claim of self-defense under Florida law, the defendant must present evidence that supports the self-defense claim, whether it is through their testimony or other evidence. Once this showing has been made, the defendant is entitled to a jury instruction on self-defense.
Non-deadly force is using force that is not likely to cause great bodily harm or death. Deadly force is using force that causes death. In both cases, the defendant must reasonably believe that their use of force is necessary to prevent or stop the alleged victim’s immediate wrongful or criminal behavior.
Stand Your Ground Law
In October 2005, the legal landscape of self-defense was drastically changed when Florida passed the Stand Your Ground law which allows for the use of deadly force in self-defense. Before this law, a person was first required to attempt retreat before engaging with the aggressor.
Chapter 776 of the Florida Statutes, also known as the Stand Your Ground law, states that a person who was attacked has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand their ground and meet force with force—even if the force is deadly—if it is reasonably believed that this force will prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
This law now allows a person to raise a self-defense claim at both the Pretrial Hearing and at trial. This means that if a judge finds that the actions of deadly force were indeed justified, the charges can be dismissed, and no trial is required. If the judge does not dismiss the charges at the Pretrial Hearing, the defense can be presented to a jury at trial, where they can determine whether the self-defense actions were justifiable or not.
Learn More> What is the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida?
Using Self-Defense Claims in Court
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime and you were defending yourself, you need to contact the criminal defense attorneys at Stechschulte Nell Law at (813) 280-1244 for a free case review.
The Stand Your Ground laws in Florida are complex and require a skilled, knowledgeable, and trained attorney, such as those at Stechschulte Nell Law. Call us today, your life depends on it.