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Comparing “Stand Your Ground” And The “Castle Doctrine” Under Florida Law


The notion of self-defense is one of the very few defenses to murder charges in Florida, and it is also one of the most misunderstood concepts for those who do not have a legal background. There are multiple laws on the books that cover justifiable use of force, which is an umbrella term for various forms of self-defense, defense of others, and defense of property. When it comes to murder charges, two key statutes allow use of deadly force under extremely limited circumstances; these sections have come to be known familiarly as the “Castle Doctrine” and “Stand Your Ground.”

Both laws allow a person to avoid criminal liability under certain circumstances, but they are very different. The details are highly complex, so retaining a Fort Lauderdale murder attorney is essential if you are facing charges. A comparison of Stand Your Ground and the Castle Doctrine may also be informative.

Use of Deadly Force 

The key concept behind both types of self-defense claims is the circumstances under which a person is allowed to use deadly force, including location and the individual’s perception. 

  1. Stand Your Ground: You can use deadly force if you reasonably believe that it is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony OR death or great bodily harm to yourself or someone else. You do not have a duty to retreat, and this version of self-defense applies wherever you are located – as long as you are legally present.
  2. The Castle Doctrine: Florida and other US states have enacted laws recognizing that a person’s home is their castle, and they are entitled to use deadly force to defend themselves in such a situation. As a result, self-defense under this section requires that you be in a dwelling. 

Procedural Differences 

Self-defense is typically raised as an instruction to the jury, in which the defendant claims that use of deadly force was justified. The jurors will consider evidence on how reasonable it was for you to believe that you needed to defend yourself and whether the harm was imminent. When there is evidence that you acted in self-defense, the prosecutor is required to overcome it with proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, in a case based upon Stand Your Ground, you must raise the defense via a pretrial motion. The court must hold an evidentiary hearing to invoke immunity from prosecution, and you are required to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you acted in self-defense. The case could be immediately dismissed if you meet this standard, which is lower than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Consult with a Broward County Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Case 

If you were arrested for murder in Florida, it is critical to explore all possible options for fighting the charges. Stand Your Ground and the Castle Doctrine are both extremely complicated concepts, and your future and freedom are at stake. For more information on defense strategies, please call 954-761-9411 or go online to reach the Fort Lauderdale offices of Attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can schedule a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.



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