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Self-Defense In Florida Domestic Violence Cases
Normally, one does not contemplate the idea of self-defense against domestic violence. However, there are many instances where two people may get into a physical altercation, but one or both of them may feel that they are acting in self-defense. If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense in Florida, but you acted out of fear for your safety, an experienced attorney may be able to create reasonable doubt in your case.
Can I “Stand My Ground?”
Florida is a state that is somewhat notorious for its “stand your ground” laws, which allow a person to use force – sometimes, even deadly force – if the situation is justified. One may, in theory, use justified force in defense of property (generally, your home), or your person, but what makes force “justified” will differ from case to case. In a domestic violence case, the use of force against a person is what is most likely to be called into question.
The relevant statute says that a person is justified in using non-deadly force against another person when they reasonably believe it necessary to defend themselves (or someone else) against the second person’s “imminent use of unlawful force.” Someone in that situation also does not have any duty to retreat before using force. The key factor is “reasonable” belief – if there are grounds for a reasonable person to believe someone is about to use unlawful force against them, they are justified in using force in return.
Potential Disadvantages To Self-Defense Claims
While it is very possible to cast reasonable doubt on guilt or innocence by asserting a claim of self-defense, there are potential negatives to mounting this type of defense. Perhaps the most immediate is that by doing so, you admit to certain facts – for example, that you were present at the scene of the altercation, and that you did actually cause injury to the alleged victim. In some cases, admitting these truths will not be a problem – but sometimes, it will.
In general, admitting that you actively caused injury to your accuser can sometimes undermine the argument that you had a “reasonable” fear of their using unlawful force, particularly if you can be shown to be the aggressor. Florida law is clear that someone who provokes the initial use of force against them cannot argue self-defense; actively courting a physical altercation immediately undermines that claim.
Call A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
Domestic violence cases are difficult to navigate, particularly if self-defense is an issue. If you have been charged with a crime of domestic violence, but you acted in self-defense, contacting a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help to ensure your rights are protected in court. Contact our office today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.