Understanding Self-Defense in Florida
Most people accept the principle that a person should protect himself from harm in life-threatening situations, even if the behavior necessary to combat the imminent threat would usually constitute a crime. When you are accused of a violent crime in Florida, one of the most substantial defenses available to you is self-defense.
Florida is one of twenty-one states that have implemented a “Stand Your Ground” law; in fact, Florida was the very first state to establish such a statute in 2005. Florida is also the only state to explicitly place the burden of proof on prosecutors in pretrial self-defense hearings, meaning that the defendant is always presumed innocent until proven guilty. Additionally, the right to defend yourself extends beyond the perimeter of your home. According to the Stand Your Ground law, a person has no duty to retreat and can protect himself anywhere he is legally allowed to be, whether on private or public property.
When Is it OK to Use Self-Defense in Florida?
A person may use self-defense when he or she reasonably believes that his or her life is in immediate danger. If you find yourself in a situation in which you believe someone is about to kill you or cause you great bodily harm, or you believe that the aggressor is about to kill or maim another person, it is reasonable to protect yourself and others from the instigator’s actions using only the necessary amount of force.
Likewise, you have the right to prevent a person from committing a forcible felony on your property such as your home, car, or boat. Florida Statute §776.13 discusses the right to protect your home with the use or threatened use of deadly force.
Self-defense is commonly asserted to defend actions taken to protect against the following forcible felonies:
- Assault/ battery
- Aggravated assault/ aggravated battery
- Sexual battery
- Aggravated Stalking
- Attempted Murder
- Home invasion robbery
Justifying the Use of Lethal Force
A defendant’s use of lethal force can be justified when the defendant had a reason to believe that such force was necessary to prevent sustaining great bodily harm or suffering death. The defendant must have had a reasonable fear of an imminent threat. The threat could have been verbal, so long as it put the intended victim in fear of physical harm. If the aggressor used offensive words without an accompanying threat of immediate physical harm, self-defense could not be justified.
Asserting the Right to Self-Defense
A criminal defense lawyer who opts to assert your right to self-defense must scrutinize all aspects of your case. In addition to collecting information to establish your persona, your lawyer must also evaluate the victim’s reputation and examine his or her background. Your Orlando criminal defense lawyer should obtain a thorough understanding of your relationship with the victim and the disputes that led up to the altercation. It’s important to get an accurate picture of the crime from all angles.
Defense attorneys with the Umansky Law Firm have defended hundreds of self-defense cases. We understand when and how to assert self-defense to fight the charges against you. Speak with our team of experienced attorneys to find out more about how we can help you resolve your case.