Individuals in Florida have the legal right to protect themselves and others from serious threats. Although violence is usually against the law, it isn’t illegal to act in self-defense. Florida has a Stand Your Ground law that enhances self-defense rights by eliminating the duty to retreat before using physical force, including deadly force, for the purpose of self-defense or the protection of others.
There is a lot of confusion around the Florida Stand Your Ground law and how it differs from traditional self-defense claims. When you understand the way that the Stand Your Ground law protects individuals, you will be able to better respond to a dangerous situation or allegations you didn’t handle a scenario properly.
Self-defense claims are an affirmative defense
When Florida police officers arrest someone after an altercation and then pursue charges against that individual, the defendant may claim self-defense to protect themselves. The criminal courts in Florida allow for affirmative defenses where people attempt to prove that their actions did not break the law instead of proving that they didn’t commit a certain act.
Convincing a jury that someone acted to protect themselves, another person or their property could be a successful defense strategy. However, Stand Your Ground protections are different. The Stand Your Ground law in Florida in theory extends immunity from prosecution to the individual who acts in self-defense.
What does immunity from prosecution mean?
Someone who acts in a way permitted under the Stand Your Ground law may find themselves arrested and the focus of a police investigation. Officers will need to gather evidence about what occurred and then evaluate the situation carefully, often in conjunction with prosecutors.
Provided that officials reach the conclusion that the individual acted out of a belief that there was an immediate threat of physical harm, they will not bring charges against someone who uses physical violence to prevent criminal activity. Of course, the person who stands their ground will typically need to show that they did not break the law immediately preceding the incident and that they have the legal right to be in the location where the incident occurred.
Understanding the rules that apply to Florida Stand Your Ground claims can help those hoping to defend against allegations of a violent criminal offense.