Self-Defense Shootings: What You Need to Know

self defense shooting, Self-Defense Shootings: What You Need to Know

The idea of a self-defense shooting seems straightforward. You are using a legal firearm to protect yourself against another party who intends to cause harm to you or your property. Many people imagine it will be clear that they acted in self-defense if the worst should happen, but the reality is more complex.

Evidence might be lacking, and the circumstances could be far more complicated than you realize. 

It will help to know what constitutes a self-defense shooting in Florida. Below, read our quick guide on what gun owners need to know about self-defense shooting.

What is a Self-Defense Shooting?

A self-defense shooting involves an owner of a permitted firearm using this firearm to protect themselves against another party. The defendant (the user of the firearm) must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that the other party intends to cause real harm to the defendant or another.

The defendant must be able to prove at least one of the following cases:

  1. That they were at their home or in their vehicle and the assailant had no legal reason to be in the property or vehicle
  2. That they were lawfully permitted to be where they were at the time of the shooting and were not engaged in any unlawful activities
  3. That, if they were not in their home or vehicle, that the assailant had clear intentions to harm the defendant or another

What Qualifies as a Self-Defense Shooting in Florida?

Examples of a legal self-defense shooting in Florida include:

  • When someone enters your home or vehicle without your permission – it is assumed that intent is harmful in these cases
  • When someone refuses to leave your home or vehicle after having been asked, and then acts with violent intent – circumstantial evidence must be presented in these cases
  • When someone approaches you with violent intent, where you are legally entitled to be and are not engaged in unlawful activities, and you fear serious harm or death without intervention – these cases also require circumstantial evidence

However, there is another factor that complicates self-defense shooting law in Florida. The “duty to retreat” is a common law practice which suggests that individuals should retreat or contact the authorities if they come across any unlawful activity that does not pose an immediate threat.

In public spaces, cases where the “duty to retreat” is not possible must involve a party approaching the defendant intending to cause harm without the defendant having voluntarily engaged with the other party. However, if the assailant showed imminent intent to cause harm or use deadly force to another party, the “duty to retreat” does not apply.

What Does Not Qualify as a Self-Defense Shooting in Florida?

The following cases do not qualify as self-defense shootings in Florida:

  • Using a firearm in a personal conflict in a public space where the other party did not show lethal intent
  • Using a firearm against another party in your home or vehicle when they were legally entitled to be there
  • Using a firearm against someone engaging in unlawful activities, unless these activities involve immediate and serious physical harm to the defendant or another

For cases such as these, “duty to retreat” still applies. 

What Rights Do FL Property Owners Have to Defend Themselves and Their Property?

If an intruder enters your property without permission, it can be legally assumed that they had harmful intent. In these cases, the legal occupant of the property, if in possession of a legally owned firearm, may use their firearm in self-defense against the intruder. Another party authorized to be on the property may also use a legal firearm in these cases. However, the law does not cover illegally owned firearms.

In cases of non-harmful or non-compliant behavior, the “duty to retreat” applies: you should contact the relevant authorities to remove the person from your property where possible. 

If an individual on your property who was formerly permitted to be there suggests that they intend to seriously harm or act with lethal intent towards you or others on your property, you are permitted to shoot in self-defense to protect yourself or others according to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. However, you may need to provide evidence (e.g., eyewitness accounts) to demonstrate that you had legally denied that individual right to be on your property before the incident.

What if an intruder attempts to enter your vehicle? The same rules apply: you may defend yourself with a legally-owned firearm because it is assumed that the intruder has harmful intentions.

In vehicles, the need to act tends to be more imminent: the particular details should be discussed with an experienced attorney to fully understand which rights apply. 

What If You are Charged in a Self-Defense Shooting Even Though You Were Protecting Yourself?

Self-defense shootings are a complex area of the law. However, Florida law does offer protections for individuals using a legally owned firearm in self-defense. Your best course of action is to get in touch with an experienced Florida defense lawyer.

Your attorney can provide you with expert advice on: 

  • How to gather and present circumstantial evidence
  • Whether you were within your rights to shoot
  • How to proceed when you have been charged with a self-defense shooting in Florida

Contact Mike G Law For Expert Advice on Self-Defense Shootings in Florida

If you are a gun owner charged with a shooting in Florida, your first step should be to contact an experienced self-defense shooting attorney.

Mike G Law has represented numerous clients who have been involved in self-defense shootings in Florida. Mike’s expert knowledge and years of experience with these cases can help you understand your case and present a full defense against charges.

Contact the team at Mike G Law for legal help with self-defense shootings in Florida today.

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