Your Right to Defend Yourself
If someone attacks you, you have the legal right to defend yourself. You may do so even if preventing yourself from being harmed ight require harming the individual who initiated the attack. This is commonly known as self-defense. As simple as this may sound, this was not always the case in Florida. Fortunately, Florida was one of the first states to make changes in their laws that expand the doctrine of self-defense.
FLORIDA’S STAND YOUR GROUND LAW
Under an expansion of the Castle Doctrine, Florida changed its self-defense laws in 2005 to what is now known as Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Prior to this change, if a person attacked you, you only had a legal right to defend yourself with the use of force if you were in your home (hence, the older “castle” doctrine). However, under Florida’s new law, you are now able to defend yourself with force outside your home.
One of the major benefits of Florida’s “stand your ground” law is that you now have a right to file a motion to have a hearing on your immunity from prosecution before trial. Hiring an attorney early on can ensure pitfalls of a trial. Instead, you can have a judge grant you immunity prior to ever having a trial date set. The standard for this is showing by a preponderance of the evidence that you were legally justified to defend yourself — you were in fear and the person was going to attack you.
SELF DEFENSE AND LETHAL FORCE
There is a huge difference between self-defense and defense using lethal force. Consider the phrasing of Florida’s statutes in regard to basic self-defense:
“A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force.”
Now consider what the statute says regarding when deadly force is permissible:
“A person is justified in using or threatening 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 himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
In other words, the only time deadly force is considered self-defense is if a person reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm, whether to yourself or someone else. It is essential that you understand this to ensure you don’t commit a crime when you thought you were merely acting in self-defense.
One of the most common areas that involve self-defense is domestic violence. If you have a domestic violence matter and require representation, I can also assist you with that.
FORT LAUDERDALE SELF-DEFENSE CASES: THE IMPORTANCE OF HIRING AN ATTORNEY
Hiring a Fort Lauderdale self-defense attorney to represent you if you are potentially facing criminal charges after harming someone in order to prevent them from harming you is critical for a number of reasons. A qualified lawyer can assist you in the following essential ways:
- Gathering evidence: Although you may be confident that you were well within your legal rights to defend yourself when you were attacked, if you are unable to prove this with supporting evidence, you could face legal penalties. An attorney can investigate your case and help you gather such evidence. They may do so by interviewing witnesses, reviewing any available footage of the incident (such as security footage), and taking any other necessary steps to help you show you had reason to genuinely fear for your safety when you acted in self-defense.
- Advising you before you make statements: It’s easy to get emotional or frustrated when you believe you are being unfairly accused of criminal behavior after simply defending yourself from an attacker. While such reactions are understandable, if you allow your emotions to control your words and actions, you may accidentally make statements to judges, law enforcement officers, or other such parties that can suggest the manner in which you defended yourself was not fully justified given the nature of the situation. A Fort Lauderdale self-defense lawyer can help you avoid making such statements that could otherwise jeopardize your case.
- Explaining and citing applicable laws: Even if you understand the generalities of Florida’s self-defense and stand your ground laws, you might not be entirely familiar with all specific details of these statutes. This can hamper your ability to explain to a court why you were legally permitted to defend yourself in the way that you chose to when you were attacked. To ensure you present a strong argument that’s rooted in a thorough understanding of Florida’s laws, hire an attorney who specializes in handling cases such as yours.
Being attacked unexpectedly is an acutely frightening experience. Even if you manage to successfully defend yourself, the experience can still result in stress if you find yourself being accused of a crime in the aftermath.
This doesn’t need to happen. It is possible to be granted prosecutorial immunity if you can prove that you behaved in accordance with Florida’s laws when you defended yourself from an attacker. You are far more likely to be granted immunity and avoid prosecution if you have representation from a qualified Fort Lauderdale self-defense attorney.
CONTACT AN AGGRESSIVE, EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY
If you are facing any type of criminal charge, it is important to take action right away. The sooner you act, the more time you and your lawyer have to build a strong criminal defense, including self-defense arguments. Call The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A., toll-free during business hours at 954-533-2756 and after hours at 954-297-6546. You can also reach me online. Consultations are always free and confidential.
Contact Me For Criminal Defense
For legal representation in any criminal matter in Florida, please reach out to me online or call me toll-free at 954-533-2756.