Self Defense and Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law
In 2005, the Florida Legislature enacted a law that permits any individual in Florida the right to defend his or herself against an attacker, even with deadly force, without retreating. Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws protect you in the event that you are forced to protect yourself from death or great bodily harm. Your fate is no longer solely in the hands of a jury. With an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you may even be able to claim immunity against any potential prosecution for death or injury you caused in the process of defending yourself. The protection given by this law is the highest protection – immunity from prosecution. Brian E. Gonzalez can utilize Stand Your Ground to prevent charges from being filed or dismissed if they have already been filed. Remember, dismissal of any case is a long and complex procedure but the criminal experience of Attorney Brian E. Gonzalez can help ensure your “Stand Your Ground” case is handled quickly and with the utmost care.
Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws are still in their fledgling stages, which means the language of the statutes involved require some legal interpreting on your behalf.
Florida Statute 776.013(3) reads:
- “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
In June, 2017, Florida enacted legislation adding subsection (4) to Florida Statute Section 776.032 that now shifts the burden to the prosecutor to prove by clear and convincing evidence that a criminal defendant IS NOT entitled to use Stand Your Ground defense to receive immunity from the prosecution.
The Stand Your Ground law does not apply if:
- You are somewhere that you have no right to be
- You are in the process of committing a crime, or
- You provoked violence against yourself on purpose
The Law Offices of Brian E. Gonzalez has spent more than 32 years defending individuals across Florida who have only ever defended themselves and the people they love. Self Defense is any victim’s last life line, and you deserve aggressive legal representation that can stand by you in the courtroom and in your time of need.
Was Your Conduct Justified or Excusable Under One of Florida’s Affirmative Defenses
Where total immunity from prosecution cannot always be justified, Florida’s Affirmative Defenses may come into play. When using an affirmative defense a defendant concedes that he or she committed the elements of the offense and they are trusted to raise additional facts, which establish a valid excuse, justification, or right to engage in the conduct at question. There are many compelling reasons why one may be forced to break the law including necessity, duress and involuntary intoxication.
- Necessity: Brian E. Gonzalez can possibly employ a “necessity defense” when an individual breaks the law because of the simple fact that no other options were available to them. The situation poses threat of serious bodily injury and the only means of escape from the threat is a criminal action. Use of a necessity defense requires proof for five key elements.
- The Defendant reasonably believes his or her actions were necessary to deter an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to himself or others.
- The Defendant did not intentionally or recklessly put him or herself or others in a situation in which it was probable he or she would be forced to take criminal action.
- There was no other adequate means for avoiding the criminal conduct.
- The criminal conduct was less egregious than the threat sought to be avoided.
- The Defendant ceased criminal conduct the moment the necessity ended.
- Duress: The affirmative defense of duress applies to a case when an individual is forced to conduct criminal activity in order to avoid bodily injury. This is especially applicable in the case of gangs which sometimes require members to commit criminal acts as a means of initiation.
- Involuntary intoxication: If a Defendant is forced or intoxicated against his or her will or knowledge, the criminal actions committed by the Defendant thereafter are defensible.
- Independent Act: Not all affirmative defenses result in acquittals, but a skilled criminal defense attorney can at least limit punishment as in the case of an Independent Act. If a Defendant agrees to commit a single criminal act, but co-Defendants commit multiple acts that are not contemplated or foreseen or aren’t part of the scope of the agreement, the Defense may challenge additional charges for the individual who committed the lesser crime.
- Entrapment: When government officials, such as law enforcement, coax an innocent person into committing criminal activity, it is called “Entrapment” and can be grounds for dismissal or acquittal. There are two types of entrapment: Objective and Subjective.
- Objective Entrapment Defense Objective entrapment is deplorable conduct on behalf of the government, generally undertaken by a confidential informant. Once the government undertakes to bring in an informant the government is responsible for instructing, training, monitoring and supervising that informant. When the government fails to do this it will nevertheless be responsible for all actions of the informant. Objective Entrapment Defense focuses primarily on the government activity that led to the criminal act of the Defendant. This often precludes prosecution and, if justified, the law states charges must be dismissed.
- Subjective Entrapment Defense In using this defense, the defendant must move forward with evidence of subjective entrapment, showing that a government agent was involved. It also requires insight into the Defendant’s predisposition and proof that the Defendant was not predisposed to commit the crime until government officials entrapped him or her. This inquiry takes place in court, but can result in the jury giving a Not Guilty verdict.