Florida Stand Your Ground Law

The 2005 Florida Stand Your Ground (SYG) law drastically changed the way Florida law handled self-defense. Self-defense is an affirmative defense that allows one to defend his or herself or another person from bodily harm. The most significant change to the self-defense law was the dramatic expansion of the “no duty to retreat” rule of the Castle Doctrine.

The Castle Doctrine is the common law rule that provides that when a person breaks into an individual’s home, the homeowner has no duty to retreat. Under the Castle Doctrine, the homeowner is allowed to use the force necessary, even deadly force, to prevent death or serious bodily harm.

Stand Your Ground is under Florida scrutiny once again. In Feb 2017, the Florida Senate proposed a few changes to SYG that could significantly change the way the law is implemented. In March 2017, SB 128 was passed.

Lawyer for Self-Defense Claims in Brooksville, Florida

Florida self-defense laws have come under harsh scrutiny in recent years. Stand your ground, specifically, has come under scrutiny, calling for changes in the way it is implemented. If you or someone you know has been charged with battery or any homicide charge for defending himself or herself, then call an attorney who will fight for your rights.

Being labeled a “defendant” does not mean that an individual is “guilty” under the law. Call an attorney who believes in the rights of defendants who will fight for your best defense.

Call (352) 593-4115 for more information about Stand Your Ground in Florida.

Self-Defense in Florida before SYG

The 2005 Florida Stand Your Ground law changed a number of common law and other laws on the books under the self-defense theory. Stand your ground had an effect on the following doctrines:

  • the Castle Doctrine
  • defense of self or others
  • defense of property

Moreover, the Stand Your Ground doctrine created immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action. A person who uses force in “justified” self-defense, therefore, cannot be arrested, detained in custody, or charged and prosecuted. Furthermore, a defendant to a civil action based on use of force is entitled to attorney’s fees, lost of income, court costs, and all expenses caused from defending the action if the defendant prevails on the immunity suit.

Stand Your Ground in Florida

Currently, the Florida Stand Your Ground law grants a defendant the right of immunity from criminal and civil liability if he or she is justified in using force.

Most notably, SYG took away the previous common law requirement that a person who was being attacked had to retreat to the best of his or her ability before using force. Under SYG, a person who is lawfully in a place may use force, even deadly force, if he or she is attacked.

Additionally, SYG expands the places in which no duty to retreat applies. Prior to SYG there was no law that allowed use of deadly force in defense of a motor vehicle. Stand Your Ground allows for a person to use deadly force if the defendant is attacked in his or her vehicle.

What Does Florida Senate Bill 128 Do?

When the Florida Legislature enacted SYG it did not provide procedural rules for determining a person’s immunity under SYG. Since the Legislature was silent, the Florida courts have attempted to fill in the blanks. One of the most recent Florida Supreme Court decisions, Bretherick v. State, 170 So.3d 776 (Fla. 2015), has set forth the procedure to grant immunity in court cases.

Florida Senate Bill Proposal 128 was introduced to create a procedure for granting immunity in SYG cases. Currently, under the majority opinion in Bretherick, a defendant claiming immunity must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she is entitled to immunity. The preponderance of the evidence standard means that is “more likely than not” that the defendant is entitled to immunity. Under the preponderance of the evidence standard, a defendant would only have to tip the scale, thus if a judge finds that it was 51% likely that the defendant was entitled to immunity, then the burden is satisfied.

Under Florida Senate proposal 128, the burden would no longer be on the defendant, but it would be on the State. With the burden on the State instead of the defendant, this means that the defendant would not have to prove anything. Additionally, the State would have a higher standard proof. Instead of “more likely than not, ” the State would have to show that the defendant is not entitled to immunity beyond a reasonable doubt. Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest burden of proof in criminal cases.

With the enactment of Senate Bill 128, the law has changed from the defendant having the burden of proof in pretrial to the prosecution having the burden. Further, the prosecution will have a difficult time proving that the defendant is not entitled to immunity because the standard will no longer be a preponderance of the evidence, as explained above, but beyond a reasonable doubt.

Additional Resources

CS/SB 128: Self-defense Immunity – Visit the official website of the Florida Senate to find out more information on the status of the upcoming changes to the Florida Stand Your Ground law sponsored by the Judiciary and Senator Rob Bradley (R).

Finding an Attorney for Stand Your Ground in Brooksville, Florida

As Florida law regarding self-defense changes, it is becoming more and more important that you understand the law and your rights under those laws. If you or someone you know has been charged with a battery, aggravated battery, or homicide in Florida and you were defending yourself, call attorney Ashley Aulls for help with your self-defense claim.

Attorney Ashley Aulls is an experienced criminal defense attorney who takes cases in Hernando County, Florida and in the surrounding counties of Citrus County, Sumter County, and Pasco County, Florida.

Call (352) 593-4115 for a consultation about your case.