The recent Markeis Mcglocklon arrest is the latest long-line of controversial cases involving deadly force which is claimed to have been used in self-defense.
Criminal law used to require a person to retreat from a threat
The use of deadly force to defend oneself has always existed, however, under common law, the defender first had an obligation to retreat prior to asserting any type of legal justification. Florida’s standard ground law eliminated this duty to retreat which raised concerns as to vigilante justice throughout the state of Florida.
Two scenarios under Florida’s “stand your ground” law
Justification for the use of deadly force is presumed where such force take place in a person’s home or automobile. This fueled the fire in that many
An individual may use deadly force in any other place that they have a legal right to be where that person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to either himself or others, or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
Threat of death or great bodily harm
I think we’re seeing here is either a misunderstanding or a loose definition of the “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” claims William R. Moore
Florida courts have defined this as a justifiable belief that:
The assailant was attempting to murder them,
commit and aggravated assault upon them,
a forcible felony,
False sense of security among Florida gun owners?
Florida has some of the most liberal concealed carry laws in the nation and it is been argued that the stand your ground law has created a somewhat false sense of security with regard to when you can draw a firearm.
You perceive a threat, doesn’t matter if your public, the law says that you’re justified in meeting force with force. If you justifiably fear great bodily harm then you can take a step further and use deadly force such as killing the assailant with firearm.
What about situations where you can’t justify a fear of great bodily harm or death?
What then of situations where someone is in fear of being pushed rather than being severely beaten or killed? How is the use of a firearm viewed under Florida law in that circumstance
There are many ways that you can use a firearm. Understanding that you should never pull a firearm unless you’re prepared to use it, you can still tell an assailant that you have a gun and that you’ll use it if necessary. You can show them that you have a gun and can actually pull that firearm. You can even take another step in point that gun at your assailant. All of these things can be done without firing a shot.
It’s interesting though that Florida’s standard ground of law doesn’t mention firearms in the statute rather only the term deadly force. This of course includes firearms, however:
What if someone fears that they are in danger of being battered but not justifiably to the extent that they are in danger of serious bodily harm, such as being pushed to the ground?
Can you draw a gun?
Florida courts have held that simply drawing the gun is not in itself considered the use of deadly force. Pointing a gun at someone does not in itself constitute the use of deadly force. Marty v. State in 2016, Rivero v. State,
This would seem to suggest that an individual can draw a firearm when they have a justifiable fear that any unlawful force is to be used against them no matter how slight. This would also allow for the drawing of a firearm to prevent a trespass on twins property.
Drawing a gun and firing it in the air as a warning shot does constitute the use of deadly force under Miller v. State. Florida’s standard ground law was amended however to allow the firing warning shot.