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Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law

Phil Photo New By Philip M. Snyder

As a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale, FL, I am oftentimes asked questions concerning the relevancy of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law. In response to these questions, this article will include the definition of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law and a clarification on how the Court’s should rule on its applicability.

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law is governed by Florida Statute §776.032 and reads, “A person who uses force as permitted in §776.012, §776.013, or §776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with an applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer.” In laymen’s terms, an individual may be immune from prosecution if they were acting in self-defense of person or property. If a defendant claims immunity under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law, a Motion to Dismiss (Fla. Statute 3.190 (b)) should be filed with the Court requesting an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the defendant can show by a preponderance of the evidence that he/she is immune from prosecution. The Court should not summarily deny a defendant’s Motion without an evidentiary hearing.

In the recent decisions of Wonder v. State, 2011 WL 2061994 (Fla. 2011), Cruz v. State, 54 So.3d 1067 (Fla. 4th DCA, 2011), and Legene v. State, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D1024 (Fla. 5th DCA, 2011), the Courts have followed the ruling in Dennis v. State, 51 So.3d 456 (Fla. 2010) in holding that, “Where a criminal defendant files a motion to dismiss on the basis of section 776.032, the trial court should decide the factual question of the applicability of statutory immunity.” “When immunity under this law is properly raised by a defendant, the trial court must decide the matter by confronting and weighing only factual disputes. The court may not deny a motion simply because factual disputes exist. A defendant may raise the question of statutory immunity pretrial, and which such a claim is raised, the trial court must determine whether the defendant has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the immunity attaches … We reject any suggestion that the procedure established by rule 3.190(c) should control as to the denial of the motion whenever a material issue of fact appears.” If you or a family member is charged with a crime where self-defense could be argued barring prosecution, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney familiar with Florida Statute 776.032, “Stand Your Ground” Law, and the case law discussing the applicability of the statute.

Criminal defense lawyer Philip M. Snyder is a founding partner of Lyons, Snyder & Collin, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Philip M. Snyder handles all criminal defense matters including, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, and domestic violence. The Fort Lauderdale criminal defense law firm of Lyons, Snyder & Collin, P.A. is located at 312 Southeast 17th Street, Third Floor, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316. Telephone: 954.462.8035. http://www.lyonssnyder.com/