What The Stand Your Ground Law In Florida Entails

stand your ground law - Hanlon Sarasota

While self-defense is crucial to defend yourself from imminent danger, laws that establish your right for it differ in every state. For instance, Florida created a “stand-your-ground” law that expands the justifiable use of force against people who bring threats to cause harm, death, or forcible entry.

Nonetheless, some critics view this statute as a free card to escape jail whenever people take a potential criminal’s life to safeguard themselves inside the “line of their castle.” It has led to a few controversial cases where defendants excessively abuse this provision.

Yet, despite its controversy, stand-your-ground law effectively builds a solid wall to protect homeowners from trespassers and offenders. If you want to know more about using this law to fend for yourself, continue reading.

Understanding the Stand Your Ground Law In Florida

According to Florida Statutes §776.013, the stand-your-ground law is a statutory defense under the justifiable causes of force. It states that any person in their dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle possesses a right to stand on their ground and use or threaten to use the following:

  1. Non-deadly force against any other person when he reasonably believes that such commissions are necessary to prevent that person’s imminent use of unlawful force; or
  2. Deadly force is he reasonably believes that it is necessary to use or threaten to use such forcible acts to prevent imminent death, forcible entry, or bodily harm.

In this statute, “force” refers to using weapons and committing bodily harm to another person. On the other hand, “deadly force” is using the same or your bare hands to cause “deadly harm.” Sometimes, even if using deadly force can take someone else’s life, you can become justified if the commission falls under the law.

Difference Between Stand Your Ground Law and Self-Defense

It is essential to note that the affirmative defense of “self-defense” differs from the legal right to stand your ground. The former is not a right but a potential defense to a charge, such as assault or murder. Moreover, it may become limited to protecting your own life or welfare and not any other person’s vitality. 

Meanwhile, the justifiable use of force extends the scope of self-defense when you are rightfully in your dwelling or residence. It applies to both harm and threat to yourself and anyone inside your household. Therefore, you have the right to use non-deadly or deadly force to protect a third party’s life, even if you could retreat or your own life was not in danger.

Application of Stand Your Ground Law in Florida

Before claiming this defense, you must be inside your dwelling, residence, or an occupied vehicle. In this case, a dwelling or residence entails any home, building, or other structure, such as a tent, people use to stay overnight. It also extends to a porch or additional space attached to the house. 

However, you must have lawful access to these dwellings and residences to have the right to use the stand-your-ground law. That is also why some critics call this provision the “castle doctrine” because it allows people to protect their “castle.” 

In addition, you must reasonably believe that death or bodily harm is bound to happen. Once you intend to commit actions causing death or significant physical damage, there is a presumption that the person you harmed with deadly force was attempting to forcibly or unlawfully enter your dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle. The statute may also presume that the person is trying to remove you against your will from the said territories. 

In a shorter sense, you must expressly indicate the reason to believe that there is a threat that someone is about to do something illegal and dangerous to your dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle. 

Exceptions to the Stand Your Ground Law

Despite the law’s extended scope and application, Florida courts have formulated exceptions to the rule to prevent abusive people from excessively using the defense. These exceptions are as follows:

Unlawful Presence or Criminality

The Florida Statutes §§ 776.013 (1) and 776.012 (2) emphasize that the ‘no duty of retreat’ rule shall not apply to individuals who engaged in the criminal activity or those not lawfully present in the act. Thus, persons under these conditions cannot use the stand-your-ground defense in court.

Forcible Felony and Provocation

According to §776.041, the justifiable use of force shall not apply if the accused individual is attempting to commit, already committing, or escaping after the forcible felony. It shall not also take effect where the evidence expressly indicates that the defendant initially provoked the accused to cause violence against him. Thus, this law is not a defense if the person is already running away or if you pick a fight against him.

Other Exceptions

There are also four situations where the presumptions mentioned earlier will not apply. The scenarios are as follows:

  1. The subject of the defensive force, such as the owner, lessee, or titleholder, is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle or is lawfully present during that time.
  2. The person who used or threatened to use defensive force engages in any criminal activity or uses his dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle for illegal activities.
  3. The person, whom a defendant used force, attempted to remove their child or grandchild or has lawful guardianship and custody of the child.
  4. The person who became threatened or harmed using a defensive force is a law enforcement officer during their official duties. However, the officer must have identified himself, or the person using the force knew or must have known that he was a law enforcement officer.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

There is no need to worry if you caused a non-deadly or deadly force when you reasonably believed someone was about to cause death or great bodily harm inside your dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle. In these instances, you must know you can, by right, use the stand-your-ground defense to protect yourself, given that you comply with the law. 

If you need help or are not sure if this defense applies to your case, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney. They can help you understand your case, formulate strategies and provide an outcome that is favorable to you. 

Get in touch with our attorneys at Hanlon Law Bradenton today to discuss the options available to you. Contact us with any questions and schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation. 

Hanlon Law 

1605 Main St Ste 1115

Sarasota, FL 34236

(941) 462-1789


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Attorney Will Hanlon
Attorney Will Hanlonhttps://www.criminalattorneytampa.net/
As a native Floridian and criminal defense attorney, my family history in Tampa spans generations. Since being admitted to The Florida Bar almost 20 years ago, I founded Hanlon Law and have gained extensive legal experience in criminal courtrooms in and around Tampa and throughout Florida.

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