What does ‘Stand Your Ground’ mean?
Florida’s so-called Stand Your Ground law is a self-defense statute that allows people to use or threaten to use deadly force in certain situations without having to retreat first. The law was enacted in 2005 and has been involved in many high-profile cases.
When does it apply?
The law applies when a person reasonably believes that using or threatening to use deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves or another. It also applies when it is needed to stop a forcible felony.
The law does not apply if the person who uses or threatens to use deadly force is engaged in criminal activity, provoked the other party, used force against a law enforcement officer or was not in a place where they had a legal right to be.
What does it do?
The law grants immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability to the person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in self-defense, unless the force was used against a law enforcement officer. This means that the person cannot be arrested, detained, charged or tried for their actions, unless there is probable cause to believe that they acted unlawfully.
The law also shifts the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecutor, who has to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant was not justified in using or threatening to use deadly force. This is different from the traditional self-defense law, which requires the defendant to prove that they acted reasonably.
How does it work?
The law allows the person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in self-defense to claim immunity from prosecution and civil liability by filing a motion before trial. The judge then holds a hearing to determine whether the person is entitled to immunity based on the evidence presented by both sides.
If the judge grants immunity, the case is dismissed and the person cannot be sued for damages. If the judge denies immunity, the case proceeds to trial, where the person can still raise self-defense as an affirmative defense. The jury then decides whether the person acted lawfully or not.
Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is one of the most expansive and contentious self-defense laws in the country. Whether you agree with it or not, it is important to understand how it works and what it means for you and your rights