What Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law Means For You
They say a person’s home is their castle. This implies that you have the right to defend yourself from violence while at home. This principle is enshrined in the “Castle Doctrine,” a common-law principle that gave Florida residents the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves from intruders.
Then Florida’s Stand Your Ground law went into effect. This law goes further than the traditional castle doctrine, which included a duty to retreat (that is, escape) if you reasonably could instead of using force. Under that law, if prosecutors could prove that the defendant had the option to escape but used force instead, the defendant could not claim self-defense.
The Stand Your Ground law changed that. Floridians no longer must retreat from an intruder. They can choose to use force, including deadly force, depending on the situation. You have the right to use nondeadly force when you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent the intruder’s imminent use of unlawful force against you. And you can use deadly force, such as shooting the intruder, if you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a “forcible felony” against yourself or a third party.
The law presumes that you had a reasonable fear of being in imminent danger of yourself or someone else being killed or seriously injured (and thus justified in using deadly force on the intruder) when:
- The person you used deadly force on had unlawfully and forcefully entered your dwelling or vehicle, or was in the process of doing so, or
- The person had removed or was in the process of removing someone from the dwelling or vehicle against that second person’s will, i.e., kidnapping or carjacking.
- In either scenario, the person who used deadly defensive force must have known or reasonably believed that an unlawful or forcible entry was happening or had occurred.
Also, someone who “unlawfully and by force” breaks into your home, or tries to do so, is presumed to be doing so to commit a violent or forceful act inside.
Committed To Your Criminal Defense Needs
At Escobar, Michaels & Associates, our team of experienced defense attorneys explores every option to help our clients facing violent crime or weapons charges, including invoking the Stand Your Ground statute. Since 1986, we have worked harder than the opposition to provide our clients with the most favorable results.