Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law
The “Stand Your Ground” law is enshrined in Florida Statute 776. This statute essentially abolishes the duty of retreat for a defendant, which is generally found under common law. Statute 776.012(2) states that an individual is justified in using 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.
As mentioned above, this statute also abolishes the necessity for a defendant to have retreated in the face of a threat:
A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be (emphasis added).
Stand Your Ground Defenses
Under common law, any defense for using deadly force held that the burden of proof rested upon the defendant to prove the force was necessary. However, in 2017, the Florida Legislature significantly altered the “Stand Your Ground” Statute with regards to the burden of proof for immunity from prosecution. Florida now only requires the defendant to prove what is known as prima facie, or face value, proof that deadly force was needed.
In fact, Statute 776.032(4) states that:
In a criminal prosecution, once a prima facie claim of self-defense immunity from criminal prosecution has been raised by the defendant at a pretrial immunity hearing, the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence is on the party seeking to overcome the immunity from criminal prosecution provided in subsection (1).
This statute essentially means that if the defense can prove that, on face value, deadly force was required, the burden of proof shifts over the prosecution – making any defense easier.
The “Stand Your Ground” law does not provide individuals with an invitation to shoot anyone on sight – nor is it intended to. An individual’s use of deadly force is only legally justifiable “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 definition means that to prove standing your ground was necessary, you must be able to prove that you believed your life was in danger.
Contact an Experienced Defense Attorney Immediately
If the police arrest you for murder, but you believe you acted in self-defense, you need to contact an experienced Broward County criminal defense attorney right away.
Chad Piotrowski has an extensive background in aggressively defending his clients from charges ranging from marijuana possession to armed drug trafficking and murder. A former prosecutor in Miami-Dade County, Chad Piotrowski has the unique ability to anticipate prosecution strategies to help build a solid defense to help obtain the best possible outcome for his clients.