Self-Defense Under Florida's Stand Your Ground Law
Prominent attorney argues for clients’ right to use deadly force
The right to self-defense is a longstanding principle of American law. Florida is one of the foremost states when it comes to upholding that right. We see this in the “stand your ground law,” which provides that someone who is under attack has no duty to retreat before resorting to deadly force to preserve their life. At The Law Offices of Tad A. Yates, P.A., we provide aggressive defense for people who are charged criminally with improper use of deadly force. We understand fully the unfair consequences of prosecution of a citizen who lawfully stands their ground. Mr. Yates and his team work tirelessly to build a compelling case for vindicating your actions.
How Florida’s stand your ground law works
A Florida statute provides that “a person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.” This means you can legally use deadly force if you have strong reason to think someone is going to seriously harm or kill you.
However, you must establish you are eligible to raise this defense. A person resorting to deadly force must be innocent of any aggression. You cannot threaten someone, thereby prompting that person to defend himself. You also cannot be engaged in the commission of a crime or be illegally on someone’s property. In short, you have to be an innocent victim of someone else’s aggression.
What distinguishes Florida law from similar laws in many states is that there is no duty to retreat. In some states, before resorting to deadly force, a person must attempt to withdraw from a conflict, if there is a safe path to do so. Florida’s statute does not contain a duty to retreat, which is why it’s called a stand your ground law.
The difference between a criminal prosecution and civil suit
The use of deadly force can have consequences under both criminal and civil law.
Alleged unjustified and unlawful use of deadly force can lead to a variety of criminal charges, such as:
- Assault and battery
- Aggravated battery
- Felony battery
- Aggravated assault
- Assault with a deadly weapon
Authorities usually add on various counts related to weapons. Self-defense is a defense to assault charges but might not clear the defendant of the weapons charges.
To prevail on a stand your ground defense, the defendant must prove three elements:
- The other party was the aggressor
- The defendant was reasonable to think he could be seriously harms or killed
- Deadly force was necessary to prevent that harm
The prosecution, on the other hand, must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was the aggressor and intended to harm the other party.
A person who stands their ground might also be sued in civil court for assault or wrongful death. A lawsuit is possible even if the defendant is acquitted of all criminal charges. That is because a civil plaintiff only has to prove liability by a preponderance of the evidence. Mr. Yates provides effective defense in civil lawsuits as well as criminal cases.
Contact a proven criminal defense lawyer for stand your ground cases in Orlando, FL
The Law Offices of Tad A. Yates, P.A. represents clients accused of unlawful deadly force in Orlando and vicinity. To retain proven counsel, call today at 407-608-7777 or contact us online.