Court Looks at Self Defense Immunity Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law

Under Florida law, people can avoid criminal prosecution for assault if they can establish that they used force in self-defense. The defense is not available to people who act as the initial aggressor, however. Further, all affirmative defenses must be asserted in a timely manner, otherwise, they may be rejected. In a recent Florida opinion issued in an aggravated battery case, the court discussed self-defense immunity under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, ultimately determining that it did not apply. If you are accused of battery or another violent offense, it is prudent to talk to a St. Petersburg violent offense defense attorney about what defenses you may be able to assert.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is alleged that the State charged the defendant with aggravated battery with a firearm causing substantial bodily harm. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the information on the grounds that he was immune from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law. The court conducted an evidentiary hearing but denied the defendant’s motion.

Reportedly, approximately four months later and less than two weeks before his trial, the defendant filed an emergency petition for a writ of prohibition. The court stayed proceedings to allow the parties to address the defendant’s delay in filing the petition. The defendant argued that his delay was not inordinate but was reasonable.

Self Defense Immunity Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law

After reviewing the evidence, the court denied the defendant’s petition. The court explained that under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, a person that uses force in self-defense, as permitted by other Florida laws, is immune from civil action or criminal prosecution for the use of such force. Criminal defendants can file motions to dismiss pursuant to the Stand Your Ground law, after which the courts must conduct evidentiary hearings.

The court explained that case law dictates that a petition for a writ of prohibition is the proper tool for challenging an order denying a defendant’s assertion of self-defense immunity. In the subject case, though, the court found that the delay between the time the order denying immunity was issued and the defendant’s filing of the petition was sufficient grounds for denying the petition.

Even if it was not delayed, however, the court stated it would deny the petition. The court elaborated that the defendant argued that the trial court’s order was devoid of factual findings and did not set forth the rationale for its motion to dismiss, but there was no requirement that the court makes such findings of fact. Further, there was no evidence that the defendant was entitled to use or threaten to use deadly force; instead, the evidence showed that he was the initial aggressor. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted  Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

While people charged with battery and other violent crimes are not required to prove their innocence, in some instances, they can avoid convictions by asserting affirmative defenses. The trusted St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law have ample experience defending people in the Florida courts, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us at 727-897-5413 or through the form online to set up a conference.

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