Florida Stand Your Ground Law
- Eliminating the general of “duty of retreat” imposed at common law;
- Presuming legal justification for the use of force in a person’s dwelling, residence, or vehicle; and
- Offering immunity from prosecution for individuals who resort to force within the parameters of the statute.
In its simplest form, the statute provides that a person is justified in the use of deadly force and has no duty to retreat if either:
- The person reasonably believes that 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; or
- The person acts under and according to the circumstances set forth in Section 776.013 (presuming a reasonable belief as to the necessity of force in the context of ‘dwellings,’ residences, or vehicles).
The enactment of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in 2005 did not create a new type of affirmative defense with regard to the use of deadly force.
The principle that a person may use deadly force in self-defense if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm has been the law in Florida for well over a century.
What’s new, however, is that prior to the enactment of ‘Stand Your Ground,’ a person could not use deadly force in self-defense without first using every reasonable means within his or her power to retreat from the danger.
Self-Defense Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law
Rather than creating a new defense, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law broadens the scope of a common law self-defense claim by:
- Abolishing the general ‘duty of retreat’ rule, and thereby applying elements of the former “Castle Doctrine” to all places where a person is legally present;
- Presuming legal justification for the use of deadly force in scenarios involving unlawful entries into ‘dwellings,’ residences, or vehicles; and
- Providing potential immunity to defendants where the use of force is shown to fall within the protections of the statute.
In short, what’s different about the Florida Stand Your Ground law (as compared to more traditional laws of self-defense) is that with the Stand Your Ground law, in all scenarios where a person is engaged in lawful activity and is lawfully present, he or she does not owe an attacker a duty to retreat or otherwise disengage.
The user of force may stand his or her ground, and resort to deadly force, so long he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to avert death or great bodily harm.