Written and edited by our team of expert legal content writers and reviewed and approved by Attorney Mark O’Mara
Content last updated on: February 10, 2023
From assault and battery to homicide and murder, acting in self-defense is an affirmative defense against criminal charges based on force or violence. Florida has enacted several statutes which allow the use of force in self-defense, including the protection of one’s person, property or the safety of others. The Orlando self-defense criminal lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group have specialized expertise in the use of self-defense as a defense to crimes of violence up to and including murder charges. Learn more about Florida self-defense laws below, and contact the O’Mara Law Group for immediate help if you’ve been charged with murder, homicide or other violent crime in Orlando.
Justifiable Use of Force – Defense of Person
According to Florida Statutes Section 776.012 , a person is justified in using non-deadly force when the person has a reasonable belief that the threat or use of force is necessary to defend oneself or another. The person using force in self-defense must reasonably believe force is necessary to defend against the imminent use of unlawful force by another.
If another person threatens you with violence, you are not required to retreat but may stand your ground and use force to defend yourself. You must believe the other person’s threat of force is imminent (they cannot be threatening to beat you up next week or at the end of the day), and you must not be engaged in criminal activity or in a place where you don’t have the right to be (if you broke into someone’s home to steal from them and they threatened you with force, you may not be entitled to use force in self-defense).
Justifiable Use of Force – Home Protection
Under Florida Statutes section 776.013 , if you are in your home and another person unlawfully and forcibly enters your home, you do not have to retreat and can stand your ground and defend yourself and your home. This includes using nondeadly force or even deadly force if you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself or others or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
In self-defense cases, whether you had a reasonable belief that you were in danger from another is judge by an objective standard, i.e. whether a reasonable person would have had that belief based on the facts and circumstances. However, the fact that another person broke into your home creates a presumption of reasonable belief that the state would have the burden to overcome if charging you with the unlawful use of force against another.
This law applies to someone breaking into your car while you are in it as well and entitles you to use force to defend yourself against a carjacking, robbery or other violent crime. Also, under Florida Statutes 782.02 , the use of deadly force is considered justifiable if you are in your home resisting another’s attempt to murder you or commit any felony on you or your property.
There are many details, exceptions and complexities surrounding the Florida stand-your-ground law, so it is very important to talk with a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who has experience and success using self-defense in criminal prosecutions. Orlando criminal defense attorney Mark O’Mara has tried numerous cases involving the stand-your-ground law and successfully represented George Zimmerman on self-defense grounds when he was charged with second-degree murder.
You Stood Your Ground. Now the O’Mara Law Group Stands with You.
If you are being charged with murder, homicide, assault or other violent crime in Orlando, contact the O’Mara Law Group for a consultation about your case, including whether you may be able to use self-defense to defend against the charges you are facing.
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