Florida’s stand your ground statute is arguably one of the most discussed and least understood laws in the state. People often hear exaggerated or dramatic stories that leave them to misunderstand the critical protections offered to them through this law. The confusion about what the law protects leads some people to make mistakes during conflicts.
Everyone has the right to self-defense, but in many states, people also have a legal obligation to retreat from a threat that occurs in public or outside their homes. Self-defense statutes often protect the right of citizens to use deadly force to defend themselves, their families and their homes but limit those same rights outside of someone’s residence.
People in Florida have the right to defend themselves in any space that they can legally access. Even the use of deadly force may have protections under the “stand your ground” law. Those protections come in the form of immunity from prosecution.
The difference between immunity and a defense strategy
An individual charged with a crime related to assault, manslaughter or homicide can potentially defend against those charges if they can prove to a jury or judge that the actions they took were intended to defend themselves or others. However, the person who alleges self-defense will wind up charged with a crime and will have to defend themselves in court.
Immunity is different because it shields an individual from prosecution. When someone can show that they acted out of a fear of imminent death or the potential for significant injury, they may meet the standard for immunity from prosecution under the stand your ground law. However, there is still a lot of discretion for both law enforcement officers and prosecutors within the stand-your-ground statute and precedent set in cases revolving around the right to self-defense.
Proving that your case qualifies under the stand your ground law
Some people who felt justified in their actions have wound up in jail, while others wind up going free thanks to the protections of the law. People have even walked free after shooting at police due to the stand your ground law. In that case, prosecutors couldn’t prove that the man in question knew the people on his property were police or that he was otherwise doing anything illegal at the time of the altercation. Given his reasonable fear, firing his weapon was within his rights to defend himself.
In order to receive immunity from prosecution in a stand your ground case, you will need to be able to show that you had reason to fear an imminent threat. Any firearm involved should be legal and licensed, if necessary.
Arguing these points on your own can be difficult, which is why securing legal help is often important in complex cases. Failing to prove that the stand your ground statute should apply in your case could mean facing prosecution instead of receiving immunity.