People often see violent crimes as aggression, where one person intentionally harms another. However, there are times when the criminal act may have been committed solely due to self-defense. In these cases, the person facing charges may have felt threatened and responded with force without malicious intent.
If you find yourself facing criminal charges for using force against another person, it will help if you know when you are allowed to use force to defend yourself.
The use of non-deadly force and deadly force
In Florida, the law permits using non-deadly force as self-defense under certain circumstances.
A simple example could be if someone approached you aggressively and tried to hit you. In this situation, you may use reasonable force to defend yourself, such as pushing the person away or restraining them until help arrives.
On the other hand, in cases where non-deadly force is not enough to prevent harm, you may use deadly force if you reasonably believe that your life or the lives of others are in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.
An example could be if someone broke into your home, and you reasonably believed they were there to cause you or your family harm. In this situation, you may use deadly force to defend yourself and your family.
When to use force as self-defense
If you can safely retreat or escape the situation, it is generally recommended that you do so rather than use force to defend yourself. You should only consider using force as a last resort.
However, the use of deadly force is only allowed if there is a reasonable belief that it is necessary to prevent a forcible felony, such as murder, kidnapping, or sexual assault, or to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves or someone else.
Florida law also has a “Stand Your Ground” provision, which states that an individual does not have a duty to retreat if they are in a place where they have a right to be, such as their home or car. In such cases, the law presumes that there is a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm if an intruder enters their home or vehicle without permission.
Note: The “Stand Your Ground” provision does not apply when a person engages in an unlawful activity or initially provokes the use of force against themselves.
Self-defense allows you to use force to protect yourself from harm. However, the use of force must still be reasonable, and it should be proportional to the threat you are facing. You may be charged with a crime if you use excessive force or continue to use force after the threat has been neutralized.