Past posts on this blog touched upon the fact that you may use force (even deadly force) in defending yourself (and others) in certain situations. Most might assume that any scenario where you feel threatened justifies you acting in self-defense.
Such is the assumption that most have when they come to us here at Mandell Law; the fact that what they perceive to be defensive actions have them facing criminal charges typically comes as quite a shock (as it likely did for you, as well). Knowing when the law justifies defensive action will help you answer if and when your conduct comes under criminal scrutiny.
“Stand Your Ground” vs. “the Castle Doctrine”
States set their own self-defense laws. Almost all such laws find their foundations in one of two legal principles: “Stand Your Ground” and “the Castle Doctrine.” The former basically follows the philosophy that you have no duty to retreat from any situation in which you believe there is a credible threat to your safety (or that of others). Protection under this doctrine would presumably apply in any circumstance (or any location).
By contrast, “the Castle Doctrine” removes your duty to retreat only in situations where one attempts to unlawfully enter (or remove you from) a place where you are legally entitled to be.
Florida’s self-defense law
Which philosophy does Florida follow? Section 776.013 of the state’s statutes shows that you can justify defensive action when you feel threatened in either your dwelling, residence or vehicle. This implies that the state subscribes to the Castle Doctrine. Your right to acting in self-defense may extend, however, to any place you have a right to be, such as your place of business or a rental or leased space.
You can find more information on answering to criminal charges throughout our site.