Stand Your Ground Statute

Criminal Defense Lawyer Representing Residents of Tampa

The Stand Your Ground law was enacted by the Florida Legislature in 2005 and received nationwide attention in connection with the death of Trayvon Martin. If you felt that you needed to defend yourself by means of deadly force, and you were charged with a crime like murder or aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, you may have a reason to raise the Stand Your Ground statute as a defense. At Hanlon Law, we provide aggressive, experienced legal counsel and representation. Tampa criminal defense lawyer Will Hanlon can look at the facts and circumstances surrounding the charges and determine whether this would be a strong defense.

The Stand Your Ground Statute in Florida

Florida Statutes section 776.012 is also known as the Stand Your Ground law. It provides that someone is justified in using deadly force and owes no duty to retreat when either:

  • The defendant reasonably believed that force was necessary to stop imminent death or great bodily harm or to stop a forcible felony from being committed imminently; or
  • The defendant acted under the circumstances described in section 776.013 in connection with a home or vehicle invasion.

Section 776.013 provides that someone in a dwelling or residence in which they have the right to be present has no duty of retreat and can stand their ground and use non-deadly force against someone else if they reasonably believe that it is necessary to prevent being killed or suffering great bodily harm, or to protect someone else from being killed or suffering great bodily harm, or to stop a forcible felony from being imminently committed.

Moreover, there is a presumption that someone had a reasonable fear of imminently being killed or seriously injured when using or threatening to use defensive force that is likely or intended to seriously injure or kill someone else if the person against whom the defendant used force was in the process of illegally and forcefully going into either a home or an occupied vehicle. It is also presumed when the alleged victim removed or was trying to remove someone else non-consensually from the home or occupied vehicle. Finally, it is presumed if you used or threatened to use defensive force when you knew or had reason to believe that the other person was unlawfully and forcibly entering or that such an act had occurred.

The presumption does not apply, however, if the alleged victim had the right to be inside the home or vehicle, and there was not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a no-contact order in place against that person. Suppose that you and the father of your child had a violent relationship, owned a home jointly, and separated, but no injunction or no-contact order was sought. You just parted ways. The father came back to pick up his stuff, but you had changed the lock, so he forced open a window. You might not be able to use the Stand Your Ground defense successfully because he had a right to be there as an owner, and there was no no-contact order to restrict him.

Similarly, the presumption would not apply if the person or people who are being removed against their will are children or grandchildren who are in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of the person against whom you used force. Using the same example as above, if the father was the legal guardian of the children, and you had refused to return the children after visitation, so he forcibly entered to take them back, you probably could not successfully raise the Stand Your Ground defense.

Other exceptions involve engaging in criminal activity while using "defensive force" or using defensive force against a law enforcement officer who is trying to get into a home or car in performance of official duties if the officer has identified himself or herself or you knew or reasonably should have known that they were a law enforcement officer.

Consult a Skillful Gun Crime Attorney in the Tampa Area

The Stand Your Ground law continues to be controversial in Tampa and elsewhere, but it can be a very strong defense when it is appropriately applied. It is crucial to the outcome of your case to have an experienced gun crime attorney advocating on your behalf and raising appropriate defenses as early as possible. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has provided a strong, aggressive defense to people accused of crimes such as aggravated battery, domestic violence, and manslaughter since 1994. He strives to provide responsive and personalized representation. Call Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or use our online form to set up an appointment with a Tampa lawyer.