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Self-Defense Laws in Florida

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Florida’s self-defense law identifies the use of justifiable physical force that is taken in order to inhibit the impending use of violence by another. This claim applies to situations where an individual, in their legal place of residence, uses or threatens to use force for protection due to fear of death or great bodily harm caused by an intruder. The Stand Your Ground law, passed in 2005, affirms that there is no obligation to retreat from someone who has invaded a person’s place of residence. Our Florida self-defense attorneys provide further insight into the Stand Your Ground law.  

Deadly vs. Non-Deadly Force

Defendants have two affirmative claims to justify their actions: deadly and non-deadly force. 

Non-Deadly force pertains to situations where the action taken in defense of oneself is unlikely to cause great bodily harm or death to the other person. The use of non-deadly force is justified under the law when the conduct is believed to be necessary against a probable aggression.  The use of self-defense through non-deadly action states that the person has no duty to retreat in those circumstances. 

Under Florida law, lethal force in self-defense may be used in action or threat if the person possesses the reasonable belief that force is required to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. Some examples of these crimes include burglary, kidnapping, and assault. A person must have reasonable belief that this level of conduct is required in order to avoid death or significant harm to himself or to other innocents as well.

Section 776.013 of Florida Statutes states that the law presumes reasonable fear of impending death or physical harm on the part of the defendant if the alleged victim illegally enters, remains or tries to forcibly remove another person. Illegal entry into another person’s home or vehicle is presumed to be carried out with the intent of committing unlawful acts with violence. 

Recent Changes to the Law

Recent developments in Florida state legislature have led to revisions in the law requiring the prosecution to provide proof that the use of force was unjustified in order for the case to proceed to trial. This change uniquely places the burden of proof on the side of the prosecution. However, additional changes may be on the horizon as a Florida state court judge has stated that the revisions to the law are unconstitutional. 

If you are seeking guidance regarding the Stand Your Ground law, contact the Florida self-defense attorneys at Graham Legal, P.A. for a free consultation. 

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