Having the ability to defend oneself in a moment where you fear for your life is an important factor in feeling safe. The Stand Your Ground law protects those who have to take action to defend themselves in life-threatening cases. Initially, this was a right given to all persons, but not necessarily those on the police force. However, the Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that Florida law enforcement can use the law in some instances.
According to the Florida Statues, the Stand Your Ground law is as follows:
A person who is in a dwelling or residence in which the person has a right to be in has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use:
(a) Nondeadly force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force; or
(b) Deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
While law enforcement officers are most definitely considered “persons,” this law did not previously include them. In a recent case ruling the state argued it “didn’t apply to law enforcement officers because they are already protected when using justifiable force during a lawful arrest.”
Florida Supreme Court Unanimously Rules Police Can Use Stand Your Ground Law in Some Instances
Just recently the case involving a Broward County sheriff’s deputy put this law to the test when it went all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. Peter Peraza was charged with manslaughter in 2013 after a fatal shooting of a man carrying a rifle, that was later discovered to be an air rifle. His lawyers used the Stand Your Ground defense as he was in legitimate fear for his life and the Justices agreed.
According to police reports, Peraza shot 33-year-old Jermaine McBean during a confrontation with deputies at his apartment complex. Several people had called 911 to report a man openly carrying a rifle down a busy street and acting erratically. In court, Peraza testified that he and others loudly ordered McBean to put down the weapon. McBean did not listen to the warnings and spun around pointing the rifle toward Peraza. This is when Peraza felt his life was in immediate jeopardy and he acted accordingly, resulting in the death of McBean.
In the final ruling, it was said by Justice Alan Lawson, “Simply put, a law enforcement officer is a ‘person’ whether on duty or off, and irrespective of whether the officer is making an arrest.”
If at any time you or your loved one have been charged with a crime, it’s important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact me today at (305) 442-0200 to set up an appointment to go over your case.
Anderson, C. (2018, December 13). Court: Florida police can use ‘stand your ground’ law. Retrieved from https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/court-florida-police-can-use-stand-your-ground-law/
(2018, December 19). Retrieved from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0776/Sections/0776.013.html