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How self-defense works

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2023 | Criminal Defense

CBS News reported Florida was the first state in the country to have a self-defense stand-your-ground law when it went into effect in 2005. Self-defense plays a pivotal role in the legal realm, offering individuals protection in situations where they need to shield themselves or others from immediate harm.

Florida’s legal system recognizes this defense, specifically under the stand-your-ground law, but the application of self-defense relies on fulfilling specific criteria.

The law

Florida law acknowledges the right to self-defense, also known as the stand-your-ground law, granting individuals the ability to employ force, sometimes even deadly force, when they perceive an immediate threat to themselves or someone else. This allows them to use force for protection without the duty to retreat from the situation.

Legal use of self-defense

To successfully employ self-defense in Florida, an individual must meet several essential conditions. The person must:

  • In the case of using non-deadly force, have a reasonable belief that an unlawful use of force by another is imminent
  • In the case of using deadly force, have a reasonable belief that a forcible felony, great bodily harm or death is imminent
  • Use force in proportion to the perceived threat
  • Have the legal right to defend the location in which they are in (in the case of threatening to use or using deadly force)

Note that the law does not require attempting to leave the situation before employing self-defense measures.

In practical terms, this means that self-defense is not an automatic entitlement. It hinges on the circumstances and an individual’s compliance with the legal criteria.

Not absolute

The stand-your-ground law is not absolute. In some situations, the use of non-deadly or deadly force can still result in legal consequences. For instance, engaging in unlawful activities or using excessive or unreasonable force can lead to legal repercussions.

Self-defense is a recognized legal defense in Florida, built on specific prerequisites and operating within the framework of the law. Understanding these criteria is pivotal.

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