Your Self-Defense Case Still Needs a Lawyer

In the wake of a self-defense incident, the emotional and psychological toll can be as significant as the legal challenges. The feeling of isolation, the weight of potential consequences, and the fear of not being believed is overwhelming. When you act in self-defense in Florida, you might think your situation is clear-cut, but the legal process that follows can be anything but. In Florida, self-defense can either be deadly or non-deadly. Florida also has a provision for defense of your home and defense of property. Each type of “use of force” defense has its own unique requirements.

Duty to Retreat

In both deadly and non-deadly force cases, a person can protect themselves, without having to retreat, otherwise known as “stand your ground,” only in certain situations. What you perceive as a clear threat might not be so apparent to others, especially in a legal setting where every detail of the incident is examined. To use non-deadly force, a person does not have a duty to retreat if that person reasonably believes the force is necessary to defend against another person’s imminent use of unlawful force. To use deadly force, a person does not have a duty to retreat if that person is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a legal right to be. Deadly force may only be used if the person reasonably believes the force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm or the imminent commission of a forcible felony.

If you are charged, you have the right to challenge the charge(s) and claim immunity from prosecution. At an immunity hearing, a person must raise what is called a prima facie case of self-defense. Then the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove by clear and convincing evidence that you did not have a right to use force in self-defense. If the Court does not believe that the prosecution has met its burden, then the charges are dropped. 

When Immunity Is Not Granted

If the Court believes that the prosecution has met its burden, then you have a right to a trial and to raise the claim of self-defense before a jury. While you do have a constitutional right to remain silent, sometimes the only way to show that your actions were justifiable is to testify. It is important to provide a detailed account of the events leading up to the incident, showing that your response was reasonable and necessary. This isn’t easy, as the legal system looks closely at what happened and why you acted the way you did. The process involves more than just recounting events; it requires analyzing them through the lens of the law to establish that your actions were justified. 

Dealing with Police Scrutiny

When the police first become involved in your self-defense case, it’s crucial to invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. Contact an attorney immediately, even if you believe you are completely justified in your actions. The instinct to explain your actions and “clear the air” can inadvertently lead to self-incrimination, as anything you say can and will be used against you in legal proceedings. An attorney can effectively manage your communication with law enforcement, ensuring that your rights are protected and that you don’t accidentally say something that could be interpreted against your interest. They act as a critical buffer between you and the police, helping to frame your actions within the context of the law and safeguarding your legal position from the outset. Going through this process without legal assistance can put you at a significant disadvantage.

The team at Heather Bryan Law, P.A., are committed to providing the support and guidance you need during such challenging times. We understand the complicated self-defense laws in Florida and are here to help ensure that your rights are upheld throughout the legal process. If you’re facing legal scrutiny for a self-defense action, let us help you build a strong case to protect your freedom and future.

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Heather Bryan Law, P.A.

Our firm has experience defending Floridians against all sorts of criminal charges. Additionally, we are well-equipped to handle emotionally charged family law matters and devastating personal injury cases.

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