Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law: What It Means & When It Can Be Used as a Defense

One of Florida’s most well-known and controversial laws is the “Stand Your Ground” law. Florida is one of 28 states that have similar self-defense laws. The intention of these laws is to ensure that people defending themselves from great bodily harm or immediate peril aren’t liable for injuries they cause to their attacker. However, the practicality of how the law is used in defense cases has made it controversial. Learn more about Florida’s Stand Your Ground law here. 

What Does “Stand Your Ground” Mean?

Stand Your Ground refers to language in Florida Statute 776.013. The statute states that if you’re legally present in a dwelling, you have no duty to retreat if you believe you are in danger of facing imminent great bodily harm. 

The statute describes it like this: “A person who is in a dwelling or residence in which the person has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground.” 

The law allows you to use non-deadly or deadly force if you reasonably believe someone else’s unlawful or deadly force is imminent. 

When Can Stand Your Ground be Used as a Defense? 

According to Part 1(b) of Statute 776.013, Stand Your Ground can be used as a defense if you reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to avoid great bodily harm or imminent death to you or another person. It can also be used to prevent someone from committing an imminent forcible felony. 

When Stand Your Ground Can’t Be Used as a Defense 

Stand Your Ground isn’t a suitable defense in many cases. You can’t claim that you stood your ground if you were in the process of committing a crime or intentionally provoked someone else. You can’t claim Stand Your Ground if you weren’t legally allowed to occupy the dwelling or if you and the other person were both legally permitted to be in the same place. If the other person ran away or retreated, you can’t justify self-defense using Stand Your Ground. You also cannot claim Stand Your Ground against a law enforcement official. 

What is “Reasonable Fear of Imminent Peril of Death or Bodily Harm?”

Stand your Ground can only be used as a defense when you believe you’re in immediate danger of great bodily harm or death. Situations where you could have a reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm include:

  • When someone forcefully enters an occupied dwelling or car where you’re legally allowed to be. 
  • A forceful attempt to remove you or someone else from an occupied dwelling against your will. 
  • You have reason to believe a forcible entry or other unlawful act is occurring or has just occurred. 

Stand Your Ground in the News 

One of the most well-known cases involving Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman in 2013. Zimmerman was eventually acquitted of killing 17-year-old Martin. Although Zimmerman’s defense team didn’t claim Stand Your Ground because, according to his legal team, Zimmerman had no opportunity to retreat, the case brought national attention to states with Stand Your Ground laws. 

Alison M. Lopes— Seeking Justice for You 

If you defend yourself from an intruder who is seriously injured or dies, you likely have many questions about what happens next. It’s imperative you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Central Florida like Alison M. Lopes to defend your case. Contact us here or call our office today at 407-442-2724 for a consultation.