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Published On: Tue, Jan 29th, 2019

What are my legal rights under Stand Your Ground Laws in Florida?

Those in Florida have certain rights under the state’s stand your ground laws. Should you not be participating in an unlawful activity, and believe you are in danger of great bodily harm or death, you do not have to retreat. In this situation, you have the right to stand your ground. If threatened, you can legally meet force with force. You must believe you are in danger of death or great bodily harm for yourself or another. 

photo/ jessica45

Prior To Stand Your Ground Law 
Before Florida enacted its stand your ground law, an individual could only use non-deadly force if they were facing the immediate use of illegal non-deadly force against them and they could not retreat. A person could only use deadly force to defend themselves against imminent great bodily harm or facing deadly force. 

Duty To Retreat 
Under the Florida Stand Your Ground law, a person does not have a duty to retreat. This refers to a person being in a place where they are legally permitted to be when threatened. Duty to retreat refers to getting away from a situation prior to feeling they must use deadly force on someone who is threatening them. According to the current Florida law, a person has no duty to retreat even if they have a way to escape the situation without experiencing any harm. 

Conclusive Presumptions 
Florida’s stand your ground law provides two conclusive presumptions that favor a person who has used force to defend themselves. The first one involves a presumption that a person did have reasonable fear and deadly force was required to prevent their death or bodily harm. The other is a presumption the person who experienced deadly force had the intention to commit an unlawful act consisting of violence as well as force. 

Protection 
Florida’s stand your ground law protects a person who has defended themselves from criminal and civil prosecution. Individuals who meet the criteria for these presumptions will not be charged for unlawful use of non-deadly or deadly force. It is important that a person only used force as a way to defend themselves. 

May Not Apply 
The presumption of great bodily harm or imminent death does not apply in every situation. It won’t apply if the individual receiving the defensive force has a lawful right to be in a home or vehicle. It will not apply if the individual using the defensive force is participating in an unlawful activity or is utilizing a vehicle or home to participate in an activity that is illegal. It will not apply if the individual receiving the defense force is a law enforcement officer. This is especially true if the law enforcement officer has properly identified themselves and is entering a home or vehicle as part of their official duties. 

Castle Doctrine 
The stand your ground law in Florida is partly based on the castle doctrine. This is a legal concept that states a person has a right to defend themselves with deadly force should it be necessary. This can happen at their home, property or private office. The castle doctrine is considered common law. This is a law that has evolved over the years and is based on decisions made by previous courts. 

The Florida stand your ground law was enacted in 2005. It quickly created many of headlines around the country and was considered a controversial topic. Some Florida residents believed this law would make Florida like the old days of the Wild West. Others felt it was an expansion of a threatened individual’s right to use necessary deadly force when and where it is necessary. Should anyone have questions about how this law impact their situation, they could speak with an experienced attorney like William Hanlon St Petersburg Criminal Lawyer.

Author: Kamlesh Kumar

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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