Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law” gained national attention after the shooting and death of Trayvon Martin in 2012. George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin was found not guilty after the jury agreed on his use of self-defense against Martin. Although Zimmerman did not plead the “Stand Your Ground” law as his defense, the law nonetheless gained attention as many felt it applied to the case. Although this law was enacted in 2005, the right to use deadly force in self-defense has been a law in Florida for over 100 years. However, the new law expanded the existing self-defense law, which had required someone who felt they were in danger to retreat from that danger.
Duty to Retreat
In many states, someone who feels they are in danger must use every possible means to escape before using deadly force. States also have what is known as the “Castle Doctrine,” which allows people to use deadly force if an aggressor is inside the home and they have no means of retreat. Yet even with the “Castle Doctrine,” the person who caused bodily harm must prove that they felt force was necessary to protect themselves or their family from serious harm. In Florida, the 2005 statute eliminated the requirement for someone who felt they were in danger to do everything in their power to remove themselves from danger.
Exceptions to “Stand Your Ground”
There are exceptions to the “Stand Your Ground” law. The law cannot be used if the person claiming self-defense was engaged in an unlawful activity or was in a place wherein they had no right. In addition, if evidence shows that the person claiming self-defense provoked the violence, they may not be able to use the “Stand Your Ground” law. Although there is no requirement to retreat when danger is apparent, individuals are expected to take reasonable means short of deadly force to extricate themselves from the situation.
In some cases, a person who uses deadly force against another may be able to use the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida. This may be the case if they made an attempt to withdraw from physical contact or clearly indicated to the other person their intent to withdraw. If the other person involved continued to use force despite clear communication, deadly force may be warranted under the statute.
Contact Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins for Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you or a loved one have been charged with using deadly force and you believe the “Stand Your Ground” law applies, contact Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A. today to learn more about your rights. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the process and get you the justice you deserve.