Self-defense is a valid reason to commit violence in Florida, but you must meet specific legal requirements to justify the use of force. If your actions resulted in someone else's death and you cannot make a clear argument that deadly force was necessary, you could be facing murder charges. Our Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer can help you prove that you acted in self-defense according to Florida law.
Self-Defense and Use of Deadly Force in Florida
Several state statutes outline when using force against another person is justified, and therefore the victim cannot be charged with a violent act. These laws focus on the victim's right to protect themselves, their property, or another person, as long as the force used is proportionate to the threat faced.
The "Stand Your Ground" Law
Florida Statutes Section 776.012, also known as Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, says that intended victims do not have a duty to attempt to retreat from an attacker before using or threatening to use force. Under the law, the following forms of self-defense are justified:
- Non-lethal force. Using or threatening to use non-deadly force against another person is permissible if the victim reasonably believes such actions are necessary to defend against the person's imminent use of unlawful force.
- Lethal force. Threats or use of deadly force is permissible if the victim reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm or the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A victim may use or threaten to use deadly force, such as assault with a deadly weapon, if they are in a place where they have a lawful right to be.
Defending Your Life, Home, or Property
Under Florida Statute 776.013, a victim who is in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle where they have a lawful right to be can stand their ground before using or threatening deadly force if they believe their actions are necessary to prevent an attack causing imminent death, great bodily harm, or the commission of a forcible felony.
A victim is presumed to have had a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm if:
- The attacker was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering the victim's dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle.
- The attacker was attempting to remove another person from the car or home against that person's will.
- The victim who used defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
It's worth noting that there are some exceptions to the presumption of reasonable fear of harm. According to our Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer, your actions may not be justified under the law if:
- The person receiving deadly force has a right to be in the home or vehicle.
- The person receiving deadly force attempted to remove a child or grandchild from the home of which they were a lawful guardian or relative.
- You were engaged in an unlawful activity or were using the home or vehicle to further illegal activity when you used defensive force.
- The person receiving deadly force is a law enforcement officer with a lawful right to enter the home or vehicle in performing their duties and who correctly identified themselves before entry.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Criminal Lawyer for Help With Self-Defense Murders in Florida
Self-defense is very different from pleading not guilty to a crime. As an affirmative defense, you must prove that you acted in self-defense according to state law.
Under the Stand Your Ground Law, you can argue self-defense at a pretrial hearing. The charges are dismissed if the judge agrees that your actions were justified. If the judge does not believe your actions were justified, the case can proceed to trial, and a jury can decide whether your actions were justified.
Board-certified Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer Robert David Malove can ensure you are treated fairly and raise all possible defenses to murder charges in Florida. Contact us online or call us today at (954) 861-0384 to begin your free consultation. It will cost you nothing to learn your options, and we have affordable payment plans to ensure you get justice in your case.