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Do you have a duty to retreat from a violent altercation?

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If you are facing violent action from another individual, you do have a right to defend yourself. Self-defense can be used to protect you, your family or another individual who is in danger. Essentially, the person who is not the aggressor is allowed to use force if they believe there is no other alternative. After all, they never wanted to be involved in the altercation to start with.

However, in some states, you do have a duty to retreat first. This means that, if there is a clear and obvious path to retreat, you have an obligation to take it before using self-defense. You have to be very careful when you act. You may think that you are justified in protecting yourself, but these duty to retreat laws could be used against you if the court determines that you could’ve avoided the altercation entirely. Is this type of law in place in Florida?

There is no duty to retreat

If you’re worried about this, it’s important to point out that only 15 states use these duty to retreat laws – and Florida is not one of them. Even if you could have avoided it, you don’t have to attempt to do so before defending yourself. You can simply react to the aggression by using the proper amount of force to protect yourself or others.

This applies even if you are not inside your home. You can use self-defense anywhere that you are legally allowed to be – from the bar to the movie theater to a grocery store.

Of course, that does not mean you will not be arrested. It simply means that you can show that your actions were justified after the fact. You need to know what legal steps to take to do so.