Self-defense is a controversial issue. According to the Florida Legislature, there are laws allowing citizens to use deadly force against intruders in their homes or other property.
However, there are many factors to consider when it comes to self-defense laws in the state. Understanding the law is key to ensuring your rights remain protected.
Non-deadly vs. deadly force
All Floridians are entitled to use force to defend their homes, dwellings, and occupied vehicles. Distinctions are made between situations that involve non-deadly and deadly force. You are permitted to non-deadly force if you reasonably believe it is justified to protect you or your family against imminent use of unlawful force. You are permitted to use deadly force if you believe you or another person is at risk of imminent death or great bodily harm. You can also use deadly force if you believe the intruder intends on committing a forcible felony.
Defining reasonable fear of imminent peril of death
It is difficult to determine what constitutes fear of imminent peril of death in a stressful situation. According to the law, deadly force is justified if a person forcefully or illegally enters or attempts to enter a dwelling or occupied vehicle. It is also justified if a person is attempting to a remove a person from a dwelling or occupied vehicle against their will.
When deadly force is not justified
Deadly force cannot be used against a person who has a right to be in the dwelling or occupied vehicle, unless there is a court order of no contact in place. Deadly force is also against the law if the person is attempting to remove a child of whom they have legal custody of. Finally, if the person used deadly defensive force while committing a crime, it is not considered justified.
Self-defense cases are not always clear-cut. That is why you must seek out legal counsel for all accusations against you, especially when the situation is complex.