While most law-abiding gun owners hope to never be in a situation that calls for them to use a firearm in self-defense, there are no guarantees that this will be the case. After all, aside from sport, self-defense is one of the primary reasons for owning a firearm in the first place. Therefore, it is essential that those who own firearms understand self-defense gun law, and how to effectively present the use of a firearm as self-defense in criminal court.
Self-Defense With Non-Deadly Force
In cases where a non-deadly force with a firearm is used to defend oneself, Florida gun law permits such force if it is deemed necessary to protect oneself or others from the imminent unlawful force. This gives lawful owners of firearms the power to use non-deadly force without having to retreat in public spaces and assumes if the defendant is in his or her own home or car and the alleged aggressor enters unlawfully and by force, the action is reasonable. In other instances, the defendant must be able to demonstrate the necessity of his or her actions beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Scope of Stand Your Ground
In the state of Florida, the use of deadly force for defending oneself and others is governed by the Stand Your Ground law. It was established in 2005, Stand Your Ground gives Floridians the right to use deadly force on an individual who reasonably poses an imminent threat to oneself or other people in one’s immediate area, specifically one which would cause death or significant bodily harm. Such force can be enacted with no duty to retreat, even in instances where an individual is threatened outside of his or her home.
Of course, this defense is only permissible if the defendant can demonstrate the action was necessary beyond a reasonable doubt. In some courts, the burden may even rest on the state to present “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant was not justified to use deadly force, following a change to the law in 2016.
When the Law Deems Self-Defense Unjustified
Neither Stand Your Ground nor the state’s laws governing the use of non-deadly force offer blanket protections to those who utilize a firearm for protection. If the defendant was engaged in an illegal activity at the time forceful protection was needed, a defense rooted in self-defense would not be viable. Furthermore, if he or she was determined to be the initial aggressor, self-defense is not on the table. This is also the case when the other party makes it known that he or she wants to end the altercation without violence and withdraws from physical interaction, but the defendant continues the altercation forcefully. Given the limitations of eliciting self-defense, it is important to carefully study the law’s confines before pulling the trigger, as well as enlist an experienced attorney if one is unsure whether self-defense applies.
Do you have questions or concerns regarding your rights under self-defense gun law? Our attorneys are here to help. Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced member of our legal team.