Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, while controversial, is an important tool in the criminal defense attorney’s tool box. For many violent crimes, this is the only defense available. Criminal defense lawyer Adam Bantner is prepared to use this law to help you defend your case.
Commonly referred to as Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, section 776.032(1) “confers immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability, without the obligation to retreat, on those who use deadly force reasonably believing that the use of such force is necessary to either prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to self or others or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.” Mobley v. State, 132 So. 3d 1160, 1164 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014).
Fla. Stat. sec. 776.013(3) provides, in pertinent part, as follows: 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.
Moreover, section 776.031 provides, in pertinent part, as follows: A person is justified in use or threatening to use deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forceable felony. A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.
In order to properly evaluate a defendant’s claim of immunity under the aforementioned statutory provisions, the trial court must hold a pretrial evidentiary hearing to determine if the preponderance of the evidence warrants immunity. State v. Vino, 100 So. 3d 716, 717 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012). The defendant bears the burden of proof at said hearing, and the court must weigh and decide factual disputes as to the defendant’s use of deadly force to determine whether dismissal of the case based on immunity is warranted. Bretherick v. State, 40 Fla. L. Weekly S411a, at 3 (Fla. Jul. 9, 2015).
Moreover, an objective standard is applied to determine whether the immunity provided by section 776.032 attaches, thereby requiring “the court to determine whether, based on circumstances as they appeared to the defendant when he or she noted, a reasonable and prudent person situated in the same circumstances and knowing what the defendant knew would have used the same force as did the defendant.” Mobley, 132 So. 3d at 1164-65 (citingToledo v. State, 452 So. 2d 661, 663 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984)) (finding a person in the exercise of his right to self-defense may use only such force as a reasonable person, situated as he was and knowing what he know, would have used under like circumstances).
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