WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STAND YOUR GROUND AND SELF DEFENSE
A lot of people hear about defendants asserting the stand your ground defense, and wonder how that’s different then self defense. The answer is really that stand your ground just makes some changes to the self defense laws (self defense includes the use of reasonable force to protect property or other people). Therefore the better question is how did the stand your ground law change the rules on self defense.
STAND YOUR GROUND ELIMINATES THE DUTY TO RETREAT
At common law if a person wanted to use force to defend themselves from a situation they first had a duty to retreat. If it was not possible to retreat from the situation could they use deadly force. When Florida passed stand your ground the legislature eliminated the duty to retreat, and if the defendant is standing in a place where he is lawfully allowed to be he can use force to defend himself without retreating.
IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION
Before the legislature passed stand your ground if a defendant wanted to claim self defense he had to go to trial. However after the legislature passed stand your ground the defendant could file a motion for immunity making him immune from prosecution. If the defendant was granted immunity his case would have to be dismissed. In order to overcome a stand your ground motion in a criminal case the burden is on the State to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant was not acting in self defense.
THE LAW ENFORCEMENT EXCEPTION
Stand your ground does not apply to law enforcement acting in their lawful duty if the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the person they were using force against was law enforcement.
In conclusion if you were that the stand your ground laws seemed similar to self the self defense laws you were right. For the most part stand your ground expanded a defendant’s right to use force to defend himself.