In Florida, one of the most common defenses defendants use when facing
assault or homicide charges is self-defnse. Such a claim aims to prove
that violent retaliation was “reasonably necessary” to prevent
imminent use of unlawful force by another person.
In general, defendants in Florida can use the following two types of force
as an affirmative defense to justify their actions:
Non-deadly force – Force that will not result in great bodily harm or death. A person
is allowed to use non-deadly force when in defense against another’s
imminent use of unlawful force. There is no duty to retreat in these situations.
Deadly force – Deadly force can be used or threatened in order to prevent the
imminent commission of “forcible felonies” and imminent death
or great bodily injury.
In 2005, the Sunshine State became the first that to pass a “stand
your ground” law in the country. That means if Floridians felt threatened
with great bodily harm or death, they are allowed to defend themselves
with deadly force, as opposed to retreating the situation
So if you’re home and suddenly hear someone break into your residence
without consent, you have the legal right to use deadly force to protect
your life and prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
The issue of self-defense can be raised at a pretrial hearing or at trial.
If a judge determines the actions were justified, they must dismiss the
charges. On the other hand, if the judge doesn’t find the actions
were justified, the defense can still be presented in court so a jury
can decide whether the actions were justified.
A jury will base their verdict on the “objective standard,"
which is determining if a reasonable person would have done the same thing
in the situation the defendant was in. If self-defense is available, the
State needs to prove otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt.
Self-defense is not available to those who:
- Engage in an unlawful activity and use defensive force
- Initially provoke the use or threatened use of force against himself or herself
If you have been arrested for a violent crime,
request a free consultation with our
Daytona Beach criminal defense lawyer at
Law Offices of Robert Stepniak today.