From time to time, people may find themselves in a risky situation where they need to defend themselves or others. Stand your ground laws in Florida justify using force to respond to an imminent threat.
Floridians are legally allowed to exercise their right to self-defense when they find themselves in immediate danger. If you were charged with battery, aggravated assault, or another violent crime when acting in self-defense, you should consult a criminal defense lawyer to determine your next steps.
If you are looking for a criminal defense lawyer near the Tampa Bay area, contact Goldman Wetzel to book a free consultation.
Self-Defense Laws in Florida
Stand your ground means that if people feel that they, others, or their property are in danger, they do not have the duty to retreat from their perpetrator. Instead, they are allowed to use force as a form of protection.
Chapter 776 contains Florida’s stand your ground laws. According to Section 776.012, people are allowed to use or threaten to use non-deadly force if such action is necessary to defend themselves or others against a person’s imminent use of unlawful force.
However, self-defense laws in Florida also justify the use of deadly force if that force is required to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to the victim or another or to prevent someone from committing a forcible felony.
Florida stand your ground laws not only allow you to use defensive force to protect yourself and others but also when someone forcibly enters your residence, dwelling, or occupied vehicle. With these laws you do not have a duty to retreat. However, the use of force is illegal in certain situations.
Some situations where self-defense is not justified include, but are not limited to:
- Using defensive force against a law enforcement officer performing their official duties.
- Using defensive force while attempting to commit a forcible felony.
- The person entering the dwelling has the right to be in such a place.
Self-defense laws in Florida also establish that people who legally used force are immune from criminal prosecution and civil actions. In other words, you may not be arrested, charged, or prosecuted.
Law enforcement may still investigate to ensure that people acted as established in Florida’s stand your ground laws. People claiming self-defense can be arrested if there is probable cause to believe their actions were unlawful.
Case examples of stand your ground in Florida
In Fletcher v. State, William Fletcher was charged with aggravated battery with a firearm after shooting Randy Parker in the leg. However, Fletcher seeks immunity under Florida’s stand your ground laws.
The incident occurred when Fletcher and his brother drove to Parker’s house. Both men were concerned about their sister, who was in a troubled relationship with Parker, and they believed Parker was violent and carrying a firearm.
When arriving, Fletcher walked to a nearby stop sign and called the police. However, when approaching the building, he realized that Parker and his brother were in a physical altercation, and Parker reached for his waistband.
Fletcher, who had a concealed weapon permit, took his gun and warned him to stop, but Parker made an aggressive move toward Fletcher’s brother. As a response, Fletcher shot him in the leg.
Although it was clear that Fletcher was in fear and used defensive force to protect his brother, it was believed that he was trespassing on Parker’s property at the moment of the shooting. But the defense proved that Fletcher was actually on the public sidewalk when he shot.
In Fletcher v. State, the defendant was able to prove the use of force was justifiable. As a result, he was immune from criminal prosecution. However, as shown in Arauz v. State, this immunity is not granted if the actions do not reflect that people were trying to protect themselves.
For instance, Arauz stabbed the victim multiple times to prevent him from committing sexual battery on him. After the incident occurred, Arauz did not call for help and cleaned up any signs of the altercation. Furthermore, he took clothing, money, and credit cards from the victim.
Because the evidence did not justify the use of force, Arauz was charged with murder in the second degree.
Need a Strong Defense? Speak to a FL Criminal Lawyer
Stand your ground laws in Florida authorize you to use force when you or others are in imminent danger. As a result, if you were charged with a violent crime for protecting yourself, self-defense may be a suitable path for your situation.
If you are looking for a criminal defense lawyer near Tampa that helps you evaluate your case and identify the best course of action, call 727-828-3900 to book a free consultation with the attorneys from Goldman Wetzel or use our contact form below.