Stand Your Ground Statute

Clearwater Lawyer Advocating for Defendants Facing Charges of Violent Crimes

Florida's Stand Your Ground law became well known across the nation in connection with the death of Trayvon Martin. The law provides protections for people making a self-defense argument by getting rid of the duty to retreat that was required under common law and presuming a legal justification when somebody uses a deadly weapon nor other types of force in certain places, such as their home. The law also immunizes from prosecution people who use force within the scope of the statute. If you are charged with a violent crime, you may need a Clearwater violent crime lawyer with a strong understanding of the Stand Your Ground statute. At Hanlon Law, we fight vigorously for the rights of the accused.

Understanding the Stand Your Ground Statute

Under Florida Statute section 776.012, you can be considered justified in utilizing or threatening force against someone else to the extent that you reasonably believe that doing so would be necessary to defend yourself against the imminent use of illegal force. You do not have a duty to retreat before utilizing or threatening force. You are justified in utilizing or threatening deadly force if you reasonably believe that doing so would be necessary to stop imminent death or great bodily harm to someone else or yourself or an imminent forcible felony. For example, suppose that you shot a gun to stop an intruder from raping your daughter. If you were criminally charged for this, you could utilize the Stand Your Ground defense.

Under Florida Statute section 776.013, you do not have a duty to retreat and can stand your ground if you are in a home or residence where you have the right to be. You can utilize or threaten deadly force if you reasonably believe that utilizing or threatening this force is needed to stop imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself or someone else or to stop a forcible felony from being committed.

You are presumed to have a reasonable fear of an imminent risk of great bodily harm or death to yourself or someone else if the person against whom you were defending yourself was in the process of illegally and forcibly coming into or had already come into a residence, dwelling, or occupied vehicle. Alternatively, this presumption applies if that person was trying to remove someone (including yourself) from one of those places or if you knew or had reason to believe that an illegal, forceful entry had taken place or was taking place. Additionally, for this presumption to apply, you must have known or had reason to know that an illegal and forceful entry (or act) was happening or had already happened.

The presumption does not apply if the person against whom you are utilizing or threatening force has a right to remain in or is a legal resident of the residence or dwelling or is an owner, titleholder, or lessee of the vehicle. On the other hand, if there is an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a no contact order in place that forbids entry or contact, the presumption would still apply. The presumption also will not apply if the people being removed from the residence or vehicle are a child or grandchild or otherwise in the legal custody or guardianship of the person against whom you are threatening defensive force. The presumption also will not apply if you are the person who is engaged in criminal activity or are using the residence, dwelling, or occupied vehicle to further criminal actions. For example, if you are running a prostitution ring from a home, your Clearwater criminal lawyer cannot use the Stand Your Ground presumption in connection with your defense against an intruder or a violent customer.

You also cannot use this presumption against a law enforcement officer who is trying to come into the vehicle, residence, or dwelling while acting under official duties if that officer has provided identification, such that you reasonably should have known that they were an officer of the law.

If somebody illegally and forcefully comes into your residence, dwelling, or occupied vehicle, they are presumed to be doing so while intending to perpetrate an illegal act of violence or force.

Recently, the Stand Your Ground Statute shifted the burden of proof to prosecutors rather than defendants. Previously, the defense needed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there was self-defense. The prosecutor's burden now is to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a defendant was not acting in self-defense. A lower court found this change unconstitutional, but the ruling is not binding.

Seek Representation from a Clearwater Attorney Against a Criminal Charge

If you are being investigated for a violent crime in Clearwater and believe that the Stand Your Ground statute may apply, you should retain an attorney who is experienced in using this defense. Will Hanlon has knowledgeably represented the accused since 1994. Call Hanlon Law at (727) 897-5413 or complete our online form.