Florida Statute 776.032, otherwise known as the “Stand Your Ground” law, allows for a person to be immune from criminal prosecution (arresting, detaining in custody, and charging) for justifiable use of force. The law eliminated a long standing principal that a person must first retreat under certain circumstances.
A defendant asserts the claim of immunity by filing a pretrial motion to dismiss. The court then conducts a pretrial evidentiary hearing to decide if immunity should apply to the defendant. The defendant has the burden to prove that immunity attaches by a preponderance of evidence. If the court denies the motion, the defendant may still assert justifiable use of force at trial.
The text of the statute is below:
776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use or threatened use of force.—
(1) A person who uses or threatens to use force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s.776.031 is justified in such conduct and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use or threatened use of such force by the person, personal representative, or heirs of the person against whom the force was used or threatened, unless the person against whom force was used or threatened is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using or threatening to use force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.
(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use or threatened use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using or threatening to use force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used or threatened was unlawful.
(3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).
Please seek the advice of attorney.