It is a standard principle around the world that a person is entitled to protect himself from harm when he is being threatened, even if his actions would typically be against the law. In Florida’s legal system, self-defense may be claimed as a defense to assault charges or when a person is accused of a violent crime. Self-defense allows a defendant to recognize that a violent act took place, but presents reasons that the act was necessary to ward off an imminent threat. If you are facing charges for assault, but you were defending yourself, self-defense may be a valid legal defense.
Defining “Self-Defense” in Florida
Per the Florida statutes, self-defense is defined as a “justifiable use of force” in Section 776.012 under specific circumstances. Typically, a person may use non-lethal force to protect himself from approaching harm. If you walk down a dark alley at night and are confronted with the threat of violence and have nowhere to turn, you do not have the duty to flee from the situation. In addition, if you are at home or in your car, the law presumes that you had a reasonable fear of imminent death or bodily harm if the one who allegedly assaulted you tried to unlawfully enter into your home or pull you from your car.
Breaking and entering into your home are crimes for which the law assumes the alleged perpetrator does so with the intent to use force or violence. You are in no way required to allow the person who presents a threat to your safety to do harm against you.
When It’s Safe to Use Deadly Force
In Florida, the “Stand Your Ground” law protects individuals justified in using deadly force against those who present them serious harm. In certain situations, you are justified in using deadly force if you “reasonably believe” that such force is required to avoid the imminent threat of a felony against you, or to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. If you are resisting an attempt to murder, or an attempt to commit a felony crime that would hurt you, deadly force may be a reasonable response to such threats.
Establishing Self-Defense in a Criminal Case
To establish that self-defense was necessary the following elements must be met:
There was a threat of unlawful force or harm against you
You had a real and honest fear of harm coming your way, and that there was a reasonable basis for this fear
You did not harm or provoke the other individual
If you’re facing an assault charge, your defense attorney must establish the above elements to justify your actions. A determined attorney will look for all kinds of evidence to show you had the right to defend yourself, including security footage and witness testimony.
Defend Yourself Against Assault and Battery Charges
Assault and battery are violent criminal offenses that may follow you on your criminal record for life. A battery conviction, in particular, can give future employers a biased picture of the asset you could be to their company. Aggravated assault and battery convictions may never be expunged or sealed in Florida, so it’s crucial to work with an attorney who can fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
If you have charges against you for assault or battery crimes in Palm Beach County, look no further than The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel to defend your case. With over 30 years of experience defending the criminally accused in Florida, attorney Brian Gabriel will leave no stone unturned when evaluating the circumstances of your case. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation.