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Perlet & Shiner, P.A. Motto

‘Stand Your Ground’ And Florida Domestic Violence


When someone is involved in a domestic violence situation, their emotions are no doubt running high. If they believe themselves to be at risk, they may have few to no qualms about using proportionately deadly force against the person they believe is putting them in danger. However, Florida’s “stand your ground” law establishes clear benchmarks for acting in self-defense; if you use more force than is called for, you may wind up on the proverbial hook for a violent act of your own.

No Longer A Duty To Retreat

Florida’s “stand your ground” law was adopted in 2005. Beforehand, a person was only able to use non-deadly force in self-defense, unless there was a direct and deadly threat to their own safety. Someone defending themselves also had a duty to retreat before resorting to using force of any caliber, unless they were acting within their home or workplace.

The “stand your ground” law effectively removes any duty to retreat – in other words, a person’s first choice in getting into a dangerous situation may be to simply react with overwhelming, deadly force, even if a lesser amount of force might have resolved the situation. In a domestic violence situation, this can be quite dangerous, given the tendency of emotions to run high in such a scenario – with no duty to retreat, this also means that someone may not have time to stop and think about the ultimate outcome of their actions.

Acting Too Fast May Have Consequences

Proponents of “stand your ground” argue that if someone is being abused or assaulted, and has a reasonable fear of imminent injury or death, they should have the right to use as much force as is required to protect their own (or another person’s) safety. In theory, domestic violence victims, who will usually have a reasonable fear of imminent injury or death at the hands of their alleged abuser, have the right to use deadly force as a result of their past experiences.

That said, “stand your ground” can and does push people to rash action, after which they may face criminal charges of their own. The 2012 case of Marissa Alexander involved a woman who fired a “warning shot” at an abusive husband after re-entering the home. The jury convicted her of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon because, they rationalized, if Alexander had truly been in reasonable fear for her life, she would have left the home, not come back. (Alexander was freed in 2015 after a plea deal, but the case created significant criticism of the ‘stand your ground’ law.)

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have found yourself in a situation where you had to “stand your ground” against an abuser, it is a good idea to contact a West Palm Beach criminal attorney. The firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. has handled these cases before, and can ensure that your rights are protected in court as you go through the legal process. Call our office today at (561) 721-0552 to speak to an attorney.


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