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Stand Your Ground

Darren D. Shull, P.A. > Stand Your Ground

“Stand Your Ground”

 

As a brief explanation of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law”, as it’s nicknamed, is actually part of Florida State Statute 776.013 which is titled by the legislature as “Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm”;   Under parenthesis (3) of this statute passed by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Governor Jeb Bush in 2005, the “Stand Your Ground” section extended the boundaries beyond your home, auto or property in which you could use deadly force to protect yourself against a unwarranted violent attack without retreating first. Before this statute was enacted, you were required to retreat before using deadly force unless you were in your home, auto or on your property when subjected to a violent attack; this is what is legally termed as the “Castle Doctrine,” meaning literally you are the King of your Castle and you do not need to retreat should you come under a violent attack. Thus derived from the Castle Doctrine the old adage that “if you shoot a burglar outside your house, drag him back in.” The “Castle Doctrine” is a mainstay legal term used throughout the United States for the defense of your home and property. The Florida Legislature and then Governor Bush effectively eliminated the retreat requirement even beyond your home and property with the passage of the “Stand Your Ground” law.

Beyond your property or auto boundaries, the “Stand Your Ground” section allows the use of deadly force without requiring you to retreat “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.”

 

 

You can now use deadly force to repel an attack outside your property boundaries which is the rudimentary purpose of this law as it relates to self-defense. As an example when an individual tries to rob you while your standing at the ATM, in a store or tries to kidnap or carjack, you may use deadly force to repel the attack without attempting to retreat first.

 

 

“Stand Your Ground” has been controversial and the courts have been litigating these cases, some very high profile such as the State of Florida vs George Zimmerman.  The State can and will file formal charges that involve situations where your use of deadly force in self-defense is not as clear cut; especially if you are in mutual fight or in the commission of a criminal offense or where there is a conflict in the evidence; the State Attorney may then seek to prosecute you for a violent offense, even if it seems you were protecting yourself. Remember this though, the State prosecutors are not automatons; their primary goal is to seek justice, not merely to seek a conviction. So if the evidence of self-defense is clear to them, they may not prosecute or present the case to a Grand Jury who may not indict.

 

 

There are two methods that the “Stand Your Ground” law can be used as a defense when criminal charges are being pursued by the State Attorneys Office. First and foremost there has to be some evidence that the deadly force in question was committed by a person who 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.” The court may not allow a Stand Your Ground motion in a situation were the only evidence and testimony show that there was not a reasonable likelihood your use of deadly force was to prevent death or great bodily harm or to prevent a forcible felony.

 

 

However, if evidence does exist of self defense to repel a deadly attack or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony, then upon a motion by defense counsel, the accused can ask the court to dismiss the case and the charges against him. It is likely that the Judge would dismiss charges if the evidence is not in dispute and the evidence was clear that this was an act of self defense; the second method is when the evidence is not clear cut or in dispute, then the Judge would allow the case to go to a jury. Your lawyer then must argue to a jury incorporating all applicable jury instructions that you are not guilty based upon the evidence presented to them; that you indeed defended yourself or others based upon the criteria in the “Stand Your Ground” law.

This is exactly why hiring an attorney who will conduct their own counter-investigation of the incident is critically important. Not all law enforcement investigators conduct an investigation with an open mind and collect, investigate and report all relevant evidence in the case. Police Officers will many times ignore or not investigate evidence that tends to show a person may not be guilty or have a valid self-defense claim because they have their minds set on validating the charges they are investigating. That’s where your own team of highly experienced investigators under the direction of your attorney becomes critically important. Your own investigation team can collect and present evidence to the State Prosecutors or to a judge or jury that shows that you do have a defense to the crime your being investigated or prosecuted for. Of course that may mean the difference between a long court fight resulting in prison and walking away free without being formally charged at all.If you have “Stood your Ground”, the fight for the rest of your life may not be over if the State decides to come after you. At the Law offices of Darren D. Shull we only employ State certified, former law enforcement investigators to assist in your legal defense under the direction of a highly experienced criminal Attorney. Should you be investigated, arrested or formally charged, attorney Darren D. Shull has the knowledge and experience to present your defense to the prosecutors or before the Judge or Jury so that the trier-of-fact can fairly judge your case based upon all the facts.