Stand Your Ground Law.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law: Maybe standing your ground is not always a good idea?

Stand Your Ground Law

Florida has a solid Stand Your Ground Law that ensures your right to self-defense. To stand your ground means you do not have to retreat from a threat. Deadly force is justified when confronted with imminent death, great bodily harm, or to prevent a forcible felony. To take advantage of the law, you must have a reasonable belief that deadly force is necessary.  You must also be in a place where you are permitted to be, and can not engaged in any type of criminal activity.

For example, you are at the ATM; you turn around, a subject is threatening you with a bat and demanding your money. Being hit with a bat can be fatal and this would naturally cause you to fear for your life. You could evoke the Stand Your Ground Law and could justifiably use deadly force in self-defense.

Before the passage of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, you had a duty to retreat before you could use deadly force in self-defense. The exception was in your home and covered under the Castle Doctrine. The Castle Doctrine was handed down from English Common Law.  Your home is considered your castle and you had a right to defend yourself in your castle.  There is no requirement to retreat. Now, with the Stand Your Ground Law, you have that right where ever you are legally present.

Immunity:

When properly applied, Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law protects the person using deadly force.  The law provides immunity from civil action or criminal prosecution. That means you will not be charged criminally or sued. It does not, however, guarantee you will not get arrested even though you claim protection under the Stand Your Ground Law.

If a case should proceed to a civil action or criminal prosecution, a motion to apply Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law would have to be filed by your lawyer.

Investigations:

We are very fortunate here in South Florida, we have some of the best homicide detectives in the country. Very often, these hard-working detectives are able to recognize when Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law applies. In such cases and although the State Attorney’s Office has the last say on criminal prosecutions, these detectives are not making immediate arrests.

Stand Your Ground Law In Florida

You are not required to stand your ground:

Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law is an excellent law when you need it to protect you. If you have to use deadly force in self-defense, you will be thrilled it is available to you. Although there is no requirement of retreat, there is also no requirement that you stand your ground.

I was a police officer for many years and saw more than my fair share of shootings, I would not want to go through the process of being part of a homicide investigation. When you do shoot or kill someone in self-defense, you are going to be involved in a stressful and life-changing event. The stress of being under a homicide investigation is extreme. At some point, you are going to be interrogated by the detectives. If you are smart, you are going to have to hire a lawyer. Lawyers are expensive, in a case like this, the lawyer is going to be really expensive, trust me I know.

In addition to the stress and strain of being under investigation, your name is going to be in the news, all over the news. If you have any social media presence at all, your picture is going to be in news report and articles.

What I would do:

From the cases I have seen as a police officer and a lawyer, a significant number start as a clash of egos. Beginning with a provocation, then a reaction, before escalating to the application of deadly force. I understand deadly force, as a police officer I trained extensively in the use of deadly force, have used deadly force against another human being and have had deadly force directed towards me. I know there may be certain circumstances where there is no other alternative than to defend yourself with deadly force. But, if there were a way to retreat, I would elect to exercise that option. I can live with being disrespected and maybe having a bruised ego. I believe that to be a better alernative than to be involved in the type of situation I have explained here.

This is my opinion as a private citizen, not as a police officer. The police use of deadly force is an entirely different analysis.

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