Generally, Florida’s “stand your ground” law protects
people from facing criminal charges if they use or threaten to use force
against a person who unlawfully places them at risk of harm. The defender's
actions must be equal to those of the assailant. That means if Bill punches
Tom, Tom can push or threaten to push Bill to stop the attack. If Tom
was later charged with
assault, he could justify his use of force by referring to the state’s “stand
your ground” law. However, there are situations when this defense
does not always hold up in court.
When Can Someone Use Force Against Another Person?
Under Florida Statute 776.013, a person can use or threaten to use force
when they fear they are in imminent danger of being injured by someone
else. They can use deadly force if the harm they face is great bodily
injury or death. In the earlier example, if Tom pulled a gun out after
Bill punched him, he might not be able to use the “stand your ground”
defense. However, if he brandished his weapon because Bill had a knife
and threatened to stab him, the justifiable use of force protection may
hold up in court.
Does a Person Have to Try to Get Away Before Using Force?
In Florida, a person does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening
to use force against an attacker. Returning to the previous example, Tom
would not have to try to escape the situation before protecting himself.
The moment Bill started acting aggressively, Tom had a right to act defensively.
When Does the Law Not Apply?
Under certain circumstances, the “stand your ground” defense
does not apply.
Those include instances in which:
- The person against whom force is used is the owner of the residence or
vehicle in which an altercation occurs
- The person is the child of the individual against whom force is used or
threatened to be used
- The person who uses force is committing a crime
- The person who force was used against is a law enforcement officer
Although Florida’s justifiable force statute allows individuals to
protect themselves in situations that could be a threat to their safety,
the law is not without controversy. Recent cases have sparked conversations
across the nation, asking which person gets to use the defense and what
happens if the initial assailant backs off but the person being attacked
still fires their weapon.
Recently, a Florida man, M. Drejka, used the “stand your ground”
defense in a case where he was accused of fatally shooting another man,
M. McGlockton. The incident happened in July of 2018 when Drejka got involved
in an altercation with McGlockton over a handicap parking space. Surveillance
video showed McGlockton pushing Drejka to the ground. Drejka, who had
a concealed-carry permit, pulled out his gun and shot McGlockton.
Police officers did not arrest Drejka after the shooting, citing the state’s
“stand your ground” law. Drejka was later charged with manslaughter
for the incident.
During the trial, Drejka’s attorneys argued that their client’s
action was justifiable because he was responding to an attack. However,
the prosecutor’s said that McGlockton could be seen on the video
backing away after shoving Drejka, which means he was no longer under
imminent threat of harm, and he could have called the police.
Drejka was found guilty of manslaughter. He will be sentenced in October of 2019.
Schedule a Consultation with Albaugh Law Firm
If you were accused of a violent crime, such as assault, call our skilled
attorney today. We have over 70 years of combined experience and know
what defenses can be brought up in these types of cases. When you retain
our services, we will thoroughly review your circumstances and explore
every legal option to build a strategy to fight charges.
Get started by calling us at (904) 637-1839 or
contacting us online.