Florida Deadly Force Self-Defense Laws

handgun being fired

The right to use deadly force in self-defense came about in 2005 as a result of a Florida Legislature enactment. Colloquially known as the “Stand Your Ground” law, the statute gave individuals the right to use or threaten to use:

“… deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use 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.” Florida § 776.012(2)

Before the passing of the statue, individuals were required to retreat first before using any force even if they were in their vehicle, home, or any other dwelling. Although the statute has been in place for over a decade, recent changes to the law have left many unsure as to what the “Stand Your Ground” law actually permits. As a result, those who use deadly force in self-defense are still arrested. IT is essential to have knowledgeable legal representation on your side when this happens.

The Orlando self-defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm can combat all charges and help clear your name. Our team of attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience and regularly implement their legal knowledge to the benefit of the accused. Reach out to us today to discover your legal options.

Inside Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law

The abolishment to the duty of retreat is one of the most ominous changes from common law, but it is not the only one. The “Stand Your Ground” law also expanded the purview of self-defense by:

  • Legally justifying using deadly force when someone unlawfully enters your vehicle, home, or dwelling
  • Allowing the chance of potential immunity for defendants who used deadly force within the constraints of the law.

The most recent legal action regarding the latter occurred in 2017 when Florida Legislature altered the standards and burdens of proof. To be granted prosecutorial immunity in the past, the defendant had the burden of proving why that was so, but now that burden is shared between the defendant and the prosecution.

The defense must only present a prima facie claim for prosecutorial immunity, and from there it is the prosecution’s responsibility to give an argument as to why the defendant does not qualify. The standard of proof also changed to “clear and convincing evidence” from “preponderance of the evidence.”

Stand Your Ground Law in Action

Two men recently got into an altercation in the parking lot over a handicap parking space. The verbal argument became physical when the individual whose spouse won the parking space pushed the other to the ground after realizing he was confronting his spouse. While on the ground, the man pulled his gun out and shot the man in the chest. The man who was shot was transported to the hospital where he died.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law allows individuals to use deadly force when they feel threatened. The individual who killed the man for pushing him may possibly walk free due to this statute. This is one of many instances where the Stand Your Ground law is coming into play and being debated as to when using deadly is a necessary action.

Restrictions of Deadly Force for Self-Defense

While Florida law permits individuals to stand their ground, there are instances when using deadly force is unlawful. In regards to the individual who claims the use of deadly force in self-defense, the following statutory provisions limit when the law can be applied:

  • Criminality or Unlawful Presence: Individuals who are unlawfully present or partaking in criminal activity.
  • Initial Aggressors: Individuals who are committing, trying to commit, or fleeing after committing a forcible felony.

In reference to vehicles, residences, and dwellings, presumptions of reasonableness cannot be applied if the individual who the defensive force was used against is:

  • A law enforcement officer who identified him or herself as one or the individual knew or should’ve known that the person was a law enforcement officer.
  • A lawful resident or someone who is lawfully present unless a no-contact order or injunction is placed against the individual.
  • Attempting to retrieve their child or any other form of legal guardianship or custody.

If you had to use deadly force in self-defense, be sure to have an experienced attorney in your corner. We are abreast of the many intricacies regarding self-defense laws in Florida and can put our experience as former prosecutors to work for you. Contact The Umansky Law Firm today at 407-228-3838 for a free case evaluation from an Orlando self-defense lawyer.