03 Oct 23

Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law: Self Defense, Immunity and Hiring a Criminal Lawyer

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Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:11 pm


Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law: Self Defense, Immunity and Hiring a Criminal Lawyer

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and the law in Florida respects that. That is why the Florida Stand Your Ground law was created. Florida recognizes that sometimes people are put in an uncomfortable position where the person’s only escape from the uncomfortable position is to use force.

What is the Florida Stand Your Ground Law?

The Florida Stand Your Ground Statute holds that a person is generally “immune from criminal prosecution and civil action” when that person justifiably uses or threatens to use force under certain circumstances. § 776.032(1), Fla. Stat. (2017); see ch. 2005-27, Laws of Fla. The criminal immunity “includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.” § 776.032(1), Fla. Stat.[1]

In Dennis v. State, the Florida Supreme Court held that a motion to dismiss asserting immunity under section 776.032 “should be treated as a motion filed pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.190(b)” and that the trial court should … conduct a pretrial evidentiary hearing and “decide the factual question of the applicability of the statutory immunity.” 51 So. 3d 456, 464 (Fla. 2010)….[1]

After the much-awaited Florida Supreme Court decision, we finally have an answer. In Love v. State, 286 So. 3d 177 (Fla. 2019) the Court held that the change to the stand your ground statute was deemed a procedural change. The Florida Supreme Court further held that all pending motion to dismiss under this statute should operate under the new procedures regardless of the date of incident.[6]

What This Change Means?

What this means is even if the incident you are charged with occurred before the changes to the statute, as long as the case is still pending, if there is a stand your ground hearing in Florida, it should proceed under the new procedures prescribed by the amended statute. The 2017 amendment to section 776.032 provides: [6]

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. A prima facie claim of self defense immunity is satisfied upon the filing of the motion….

Therefore, after a stand your ground motion is filed, the defense should argue that it is the state’s burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that accused did not act in self-defense. Although this standard is less than the standard that the state is required to prove at a jury trial, it is still a very high standard of proof that the state must meet.[6]

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Hiring the Right Criminal Defense Law Firm in Florida Can Make All the Difference…

It is important to have the right team behind you if you are charged with a crime and believe that you acted in self-defense. A Florida stand your ground hearing requires the state to present evidence to the judge to meet their burden of proof. It is important that your legal team is able to challenge this evidence and show the judge the weakness of the state’s case….[6]

To schedule a free consultation with out Florida criminal defense law firm, fill out this contact form or give us a call at (954) 861-0384 now.[6]

Florida Law Prior to the Enactment of the “Stand Your Ground” Law

Prior to Stand Your Ground, a person could use only non-deadly force to defend against the imminent use of unlawful non-deadly force. Deadly force was authorized only to defend against … imminent deadly force or great bodily harm, or the commission of a forcible felony. Unless the person was in his home or workplace, he had a “duty to retreat” prior to using deadly force. In one’s home, the “Castle Doctrine” provided that the person had no duty to retreat prior to using deadly force against an intruder. However, he still needed the reasonable belief that deadly force was necessary to defend against deadly force, great bodily harm, or the commission of a forcible felony…. [1]

Florida Law After the Enactment of the “Stand Your Ground” Law

The “Stand Your Ground” Law introduced two (2) conclusive presumptions that favor a criminal defendant who is making a self-defense claim:

  • The presumption that the defendant had a reasonable fear that deadly force was necessary; and
  • The presumption that the intruder intended to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence….

These two presumptions protect the defender from both civil and criminal prosecution for unlawful use of deadly or non-deadly force in self-defense. In addition, the defender/gun owner has no duty to retreat, regardless of where he is attacked, so long as he is in a place where he is lawfully entitled to be when the danger occurs…. [1]

In passing the “Stand Your Ground” Law, the Florida Legislature expressed its intent that no person should be “required to needlessly retreat in the face of intrusion or attack.” The “Stand Your Ground” Law effectively expands the “Castle Doctrine” by expanding what is meant by the concept of one’s “castle” to include any place where a person is lawfully entitled to be…. [1]

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law now provides immunity from prosecution, as opposed to an affirmative defense that you would need to assert in Trial (after being arrested and charged by the State of Florida). [1]

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law…

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity, and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. F.S. §776.013(3)…

If you or a loved one is being investigated for, or has been charged with, a Crimes of Violence and/or a Firearms and Weapons Offense, Blake & Dorsten, P.A. is on your side. Please contact attorney Rex Blake or Nicholas Dorsten for a free consultation and/or to discuss your case in complete confidence[1]

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One of the most controversial aspects of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is the provision of criminal and civil immunity for individuals who justifiably use force in self-defense.

One of the most controversial aspects of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is the provision of criminal and civil immunity for individuals who justifiably use force in self-defense.[3]

Under Florida law, people can avoid criminal prosecution for assault if they can establish that they used force in self-defense.

Under Florida law, people can avoid criminal prosecution for assault if they can establish that they used force in self-defense. The defense is not available to people who act as the initial aggressor, however. Further, all affirmative defenses must be asserted in a timely manner, otherwise, they may be rejected. In a recent Florida opinion issued in an aggravated battery case, the court discussed self-defense immunity under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, ultimately determining that it did not apply. If you are accused of battery or another violent offense, it is prudent to talk to a St. Petersburg violent offense defense attorney about what defenses you may be able to assert.[2]

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is alleged that the State charged the defendant with aggravated battery with a firearm causing substantial bodily harm. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the information on the grounds that he was immune from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. The court … conducted an evidentiary hearing but denied the defendant’s motion. Reportedly, approximately four months later and less than two weeks before his trial, the defendant filed an emergency petition for a writ of prohibition. The court stayed proceedings to allow the parties to address the defendant’s delay in filing the petition. The defendant argued that his delay was not inordinate but was reasonable.[2]

Self Defense Immunity Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law…

After reviewing the evidence, the court denied the defendant’s petition. The court explained that under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, a person that uses force in self-defense, as permitted by other Florida laws, is immune from civil action or criminal prosecution for the use of such force. Criminal defendants can file motions to dismiss pursuant to the Stand Your Ground law, after which the courts must conduct evidentiary hearings….[2]

The court explained that case law dictates that a petition for a writ of prohibition is the proper tool for challenging an order denying a defendant’s assertion of self-defense immunity. In the subject case, though, the court found that the delay between the time the order denying immunity was issued and the defendant’s filing of the petition was sufficient grounds for denying the petition….[2]

Even if it was not delayed, however, the court stated it would deny the petition. The court elaborated that the defendant argued that the trial court’s order was devoid