In general, people are not allowed to assault other people in Florida. People who hit others or use weapons to harm others can be charged with assault and if people are convicted of the crime, they can face serious consequences. People could be sentenced to jail in addition to other potential penalties. It can also affect people’s ability to obtain employment or housing as they move on with their lives.
People only realize these harsh penalties if they are in fact convicted of the crime though. There could be defenses available to people and one of those defenses could be that they were acting in self-defense.
Elements of a self-defense claim
In Florida, people do not need to retreat before using physical force to defend themselves . People just need to be in fear that another person will imminently use unlawful physical force against them. They can only respond with like force though. For example, people are only allowed to use lethal force if they are in reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm.
The rules are a little different though if people are inside their homes. Similarly, people can only use the level of force needed to prevent the potential harm they are facing. However, it is presumed that people are in reasonable fear of great bodily harm or death if people unlawfully force their way into people’s homes. This difference allows people to use more force when inside their homes compared with when they are outside their homes facing similar levels of force.
Even if people are just defending themselves in Florida, initially, they may still be charged with an assault. This does not mean that they will be convicted of the crime though.
Self-defense claims are fact-specific and need to be proved by the defense. It is important that people understand how to present it to ensure they are not wrongfully convicted. Experienced attorneys understand how to assert this defense and may be a useful resource.