In 2005, Florida became the first state in the nation to pass a stand-your-ground law. While others have followed suit since then, many people still don’t understand exactly what this law means. Everyone in this state should have at least a basic understanding of it so that they can do what they feel is best for their safety when they are facing imminent danger.
In a nutshell, the stand-you-ground law enables you to protect yourself from great bodily harm or death. You can use deadly force to accomplish this. The problem that comes with this law is that you have to show that you reasonably felt like your life or body were in immediate danger.
What does Florida law require?
Some of the 32 states with stand-your-ground laws require that you attempt to retreat before you use deadly force. Florida isn’t one of these states. There is no requirement for you to try to get out of the situation before you do what you feel is necessary to remain safe.
Interestingly, Florida law has made a major shift in the burden of proof in these cases. Instead of requiring that the defendant prove they were in immediate danger, the law requires that the prosecution show that the person wasn’t in danger. With this shift in the law, there is also an inclusion noting that law enforcement can face civil penalties and legal fees if they conduct an arrest that is found to be unwarranted.
Why is the stand-your-ground law important?
The stand-your-ground laws are based loosely on the Castle doctrine. This is a common law that says that you have the right to defend yourself in your home, office or yard. It is meant to help people feel safe in their own spaces without having to worry about the actions of intruders. The protections are extended to vehicles in Florida.
People who utilize the stand-your-ground law should explore their defense options right away. In some cases, doing this before you’re charged with anything is wise. These cases can be complex, so getting a head start is often a good idea. It is imperative that you work with an attorney who is familiar with the laws and how they apply to your case.