Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground in Florida

In 2005 Florida created the nation’s first “Stand your Ground Law.”  The 2005 version of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Statute, which was found in §776.013(3) read: “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

The requirements of the statute were threefold:

  1. You cannot be engaged in unlawful activity;
  2. You have to be attacked in a place where you have a right to be; and
  3. you reasonably believe that the non-deadly force you use is necessary to defend yourself from the other’s imminent use of force

OR

  1. You have to reasonably believe deadly force is necessary either:
    1. to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself or another, or
    2. to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

If all three of these conditions (both of the first two and either of the last two depending on whether you use force or deadly force) were satisfied, then under the 2005 version of the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law you had no duty to retreat, and were able to meet force with force, including deadly force. If you did not meet all of these requirements, you would not qualify for this protection.

In 2014 Florida strengthened it’s “Stand Your Ground Law.”  To do so, the legislature altered Florida Statute 776.013(3) to read: “A person who is attacked in his or her dwelling, residence, or vehicle has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use force, including deadly force, if he or she uses or threatens to use force in accordance with § 776.012(1) or (2)or § 776.031(1) or (2).”  Florida Statutes §776.012 (1), and (2) read:

(1) A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.
(2) A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.
It is important to note the difference between these two sections.  Section 1 deals with the use of non-deadly force.  It instructs us that if a person uses or threatens to use force when justified, they do not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use non-deadly force.  However, when we compare this to Section (2) we see that a person who is justified under the law in using deadly force may still have a duty to retreat.
The Stand your ground language in the deadly force subsection only applies to those who are in a place they have a right to be and are not engaged in criminal activity.  Stated differently, the statute appears to allow those engaged in criminal activity and/or who are in a place they do not have a right to be, to use non-deadly force to defend themselves to the extent they reasonably believe necessary against another’s imminent use of unlawful force, however, a person must attempt to retreat prior to using deadly force if they are engaged in criminal conduct or in a place they do not have a right to be, even if they would be justified in reasonably believing that using deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm, or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
When using non-deadly force, the requirements of the current Stand Your Ground Law is two-fold:
  1. you reasonably believe that the non-deadly force you use is necessary to defend yourself or another from the other’s imminent use of unlawful force.
  2. the other’s use of force against you must be unlawful.

When using deadly force, the requirements are virtually the same as they were under the 2005 version of the law, except that if you are using deadly force to prevent the commission of a forcible felony, there is now a requirement that the forcible felony be imminent:

  1. You cannot be engaged in unlawful activity;
  2. You have to be attacked in a place where you have a right to be; and
  3. You have to reasonably believe deadly force is necessary either:
    1. to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself or another, or
    2. to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
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