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When can you legally use deadly force?

On Behalf of | May 12, 2022 | Criminal Defense

You certainly have a right to defend yourself if you’re threatened or if someone close to you is threatened. You can use force to do so. 

However, there are many situations in which using deadly force would still be illegal. So how do you know if you can use deadly force or not under the law in Florida?

How serious is the threat?

The law states that you do have a right to use deadly force in a scenario where you believe it’s the only option to prevent “imminent death or great bodily harm.” You can do this to protect yourself or someone else.

If you do not believe that you are going to be severely harmed or even killed in the encounter, then deadly force could be seen as excessive, even if you were not the aggressor. In other words, if someone just pushes you because they’re drunk outside of a bar, you probably cannot respond with deadly force because it’s clear that they weren’t trying to take your life or seriously harm you. But if someone tells you that they have a gun and they’re going to kill you, then you can use deadly force because you would rightfully fear for your life.

Making these decisions

Part of the trouble here is that you have to make these decisions very quickly. How serious is the threat that you’re facing? Should you really be afraid for your life? You have to answer these questions in a split second so you can decide how to respond. 

If this ends up leading to an arrest but you believe that your actions were fully justified as you attempted to protect yourself, then you need to know about all of your legal defense options