Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law
Our firm recently had felony battery charges against our client dismissed based on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. In Florida, if you are prosecuted for battery, felony battery, aggravated battery, or murder you are entitled to have your case dismissed if you are a person who is justified in using force against another to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend him or herself against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force.
The intent of the law is to provide legal immunity from prosecution to individuals protecting themselves from aggressors. The Legislature found that it was proper for law-abiding people to protect themselves, their families, and others from intruders and attackers without fear from prosecution or civil action in defense of others.
The Charges & The Incident
Our client was charged with Felony Battery which carries a maximum penalty of up to five (5) years in Florida State Prison after he and others severely beat up an individual who attacked them physically and without provocation. The alleged victim’s brother had been beaten up in a parking garage by a different group of people who were described as African-American.
The alleged victim in a fit of anger seeking vigilante justice went to look for who had done this to his brother. The alleged victim saw my client, an African-American male, getting into the passenger side of a vehicle along with 3 others. He approached our client and without provocation slammed the car door on our client’s legs as our client was entering the vehicle to leave with the others. He also uttered a racial slur. The alleged victim then punched the window so hard he broke a bone in his hand and went around to confront the driver who he punched in the face.
Our client, along with the others, then beat the attacker to a pulp, so much so, that he was having trouble standing. The attacker then tried to get away, but my client, not knowing if he was going somewhere to retrieve a firearm or other weapon followed him, and beat him up further. There was so much blood that the attacker was unrecognizable. The police and then the State Attorney proceeded to charge our client, not because he initially defended himself, but because they thought he had gone too far after the attacker had already lost the fight and was supposedly trying to retreat.
A recurring problem that we see is prosecutors using the criminal justice system to have medical bills paid out of a criminal prosecution. If the injuries to a person are serious or caused permanent disfigurement, prosecutors often make the mistake of bringing charges without regard to what actually happened or without regard to whether the victim was the aggressor. In this case, the attacker’s medical bills were in the tens of thousands of dollars and he required multiple different surgeries. The fact is, he started the fight and just ended up getting his butt kicked.
The Court agreed and dismissed the case saying that it was reasonable to use continued force against the alleged victim when the victim had confronted our client without provocation, without knowing who he was, without knowing whether he had been involved in the fight in a different part of the parking garage and uttered racial slurs at our client. The court found that it was reasonable to foresee that the alleged victim may have been able to retrieve a weapon and return to the scene. The court found that there were no intervening acts which would have separated the initial encounter and the last one after the attacker attempted to allegedly retreat. The court found that it was one continuous episode and that our client was a law-abiding citizen standing his ground against an unprovoked attack. The fact that the attacker may have been trying to retreat after losing the fight did not negate the legality of the continued use of reasonable force.
If you have been charged with any type of battery, including murder or some type of assault, and you were defending yourself from what you reasonably perceived as a threat to you or someone else’s physical safety, contact an experienced criminal lawyer who knows Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and has been successful in utilizing it to dismiss a case.