If you are facing an assault or manslaughter one of the first things your Criminal Defense Lawyer will attempt to determine is whether the charges were as a result of self-defense. Florida also has a stand your ground defense and it is imperative you understand the difference between the two defenses.

What is Considered Self-Defense?

Legally, self-defense is defined as “the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or members of the family from bodily harm from the attack of an aggressor, if the defender has reason to believe he/she/they is/are in danger.” In most cases, if you are pleading self-defense, you must also prove that you backed away from the threat with the exception being if you are in your home. In self-defense cases in Jacksonville, you have the right to meet force with force, but you cannot be an aggressor in any situation. In other words, if someone is attacking you and you use a baseball bat to ward them off which results in their being injured, you may have acted in self-defense. However, if they retreated and you went after them with the same baseball bat, you may not claim self-defense.

Where Stand Your Ground Differs

Unlike self-defense claims under standard self-defense, stand your ground does not require you to retreat. However, this does not mean that you have the right to automatically use deadly force in a skirmish. There are two presumptions which must be met, the first being that you fear deadly force was necessary and the second that the person whom you used force against was intending to commit an act that involved force or violence which naturally violates the law.

Where Stand Your Ground and Self-Defense Are The Same

When you are facing a violent crime charge because you were involved in an altercation it is important to understand that both claims are forms of self-defense. However, while self-defense is typically a defense if you injured someone and are facing battery or assault and battery charges, stand your ground is generally used if you are facing manslaughter or murder charges.

Difference in Court Processes

In most stand your ground cases your criminal defense attorney will request a stand your ground hearing. During these hearings, you will be required to testify as to your understanding of the situation which resulted in your facing charges. The judge has the authority to dismiss the charges against you and you will not face criminal charges nor can you face a civil lawsuit for injuries or death.

During a criminal charge using a standard self-defense strategy, your Jacksonville criminal defense attorney will generally mount your defense in front of a jury who will determine what, if any charges you are guilty of.

While the law may seem confusing, if you are facing any violent crime charges where you believe you acted in self-defense, speak with a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after this incident occurs.