Justifiable Homicide & Use of Lethal Force in Florida
A new study indicates that Florida has experienced a 75 percent increase in justifiable homicides since its ‘Stand Your Ground’ law went into effect. Specifically, between 1999 and 2005, lawful homicides accounted for approximately 3.4 percent of all homicides in Florida (compared to an average of 8.7 percent between 2006 and 2015).
The right to defend yourself is a crucial legal defense in most-all legal systems around the world. While prior to the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law taking effect in 2005, Florida residents—like everyone else—always had a right to use lethal force if their life was in danger inside the home. However, the new law extended this right to outside the home, justifying the use of lethal force in the context of self-defense under certain other circumstances.
The Law in Florida
Florida law not only states that a person who is in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in which they have a right to be in has the right to stand his or her ground and 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 themselves or another (or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony), but that very generally, a person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly for if they reasonably believe that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves or another (or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony).
How did the 2005 law change the circumstances for those seeking to defend themselves? While previously, one had a “duty to retreat,” the 2005 changes effectively remove this common law duty. It also presumes that any intruder in a residence, dwelling, or vehicle automatically places the occupant in a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm so as to justify the use of lethal force. In other words, it is assumed that the occupant acted reasonably in defending themselves by whatever means necessary.
However, that’s not to say that there aren’t certain exceptions where the occupant or whoever uses lethal force to defend themselves is always presumed to be acting reasonably; for example, under the following circumstances, the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law would arguably not shield you from legal liability:
- If you are engaged in an illegal activity (such as trespassing or committing a felony); or
- Were you provoked violence against yourself (unless you withdrew from the physical contact in good faith and indicated to the other person that you wanted to terminate the use of force, but they continued to use force against you anyway).
Homicide Lawyer Serving Miami & Orlando
If you may be facing homicide charges, we can help. At the Baez Law Firm, we represent people facing a wide range of criminal charges, including high profile felony cases. With offices in Miami and Orlando, we serve clients from all over Florida in providing the very best in criminal legal defense. Contact us today for a free consultation to find out more.