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Can I defend myself and not be charged with assault and battery?

July 13, 2012
By The Wiseman Law Firm

You can defend yourself in certain situations without being charged with an assault or a battery so long as you meet certain conditions.

Right of Self Defense to Aggravated Assault and Battery

Self-defense is the justifiable use of force, or violence, to protect yourself against harm and is an absolute or complete defense to aggravated assault or aggravated battery. These offenses necessarily include the use by the attacker of a firearm or dangerous weapon yielded or exhibited in such a way as to cause you to reasonably fear for your safety and that violence against you is imminent.

Generally, if you are attacked by someone you must retreat or leave the scene, but you do have the right to employ reasonable force to fend off the attack and to restrain the attacker if retreat is not practical. You do not have the right to use unreasonable force. For example, if someone threw a punch at you, you cannot take out a gun and shoot the person. Also, if the attacker leaves or retreats, you cannot follow them and inflict deadly harm upon them.

Home Defense

There are exceptions to the rule in Florida regarding use of deadly force if your home or occupied vehicle is invaded by someone who is committing or attempting to commit a serious or forcible felony. This includes burglary, robbery, sexual assault, or aggravated battery and assault.

Someone who invades your car or home is subject to you using deadly force against them. This is the “Stand Your Ground” law that has been the subject of intense debate in this country, most recently in the Trayvon Martin case in Sanford, Seminole County, Florida. This law legally presumes that anyone who unlawfully enters your home or occupied car is doing so with the intent to commit a serious or forcible felony upon you and allows you to use any kind of force against the invader.

Other Areas of Defense

If you are outside your home or car, you can still use the “Stand Your Ground” law if you are attacked. You have no obligation to retreat and you can use a firearm or deadly force on your attacker if you have a reasonable belief that deadly force was necessary to prevent you from being killed or being seriously injured, or if by doing so you are preventing the commission of a serious or forcible felony.

Obviously, if you kill someone and there are no witnesses, the police or prosecution have little evidence to contradict your belief that serious bodily harm or death would have resulted if you had not used deadly force to protect yourself.

You cannot be engaged in unlawful activity to take advantage of this law, however, if you are committing a crime and someone is trying to stop you, you may not use deadly force to defend yourself.

If you are charged with any type of assault or battery and believe you have a “Stand Your Ground” defense, and want aggressive, dedicated and experienced representation, contact The Wiseman Law Firm for a free consultation.

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