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Self-defense rules in Florida impact those accused of murder

Murder is one of the most serious charges that someone can face in the criminal courts in Florida. Allegations that you ended someone else's life typically mean facing arrest, incarceration and intense law enforcement scrutiny into every area of your life.

Depending on the circumstances, a charge of murder may be a capital offense that makes the defendant eligible for the death penalty. Even if the courts don't pursue the death penalty, extremely long prison sentences, including life in prison, could result from a conviction or guilty plea related to any kind of murder charge.

Planning a criminal defense for allegations of murder is a difficult and daunting prospect. However, that doesn't mean that it is impossible. There are situations in which it is feasible to defend against pending murder charges, even if there is evidence directly linking you to the crime scene. These situations can include scenarios where you act in an attempt to defend yourself or someone else that you believed was in imminent danger.

Self-defense claims require some amount of evidence

In order to successfully argue self-defense in the face of murder charges, you need to have some way to demonstrate to the jury that you feared for your life or believe that someone else was in imminent danger because of the other individual involved. Different kinds of evidence can help substantiate claims of self-defense.

For example, the criminal history of the other individual involved in the altercation could help convince the jury that that person presented a threat. A personal history that involves violence or the threat of violence could also demonstrate a reasonable fear for your safety. Similarly, testimony provided by eyewitnesses regarding the behavior of the other person prior to their death could assist in building a self-defense claim.

Video footage from security cameras and eyewitnesses can also help bolster claims of self-defense. If you or another person suffered serious bodily injuries at the time of the alleged crime, that can also help with a self-defense claim. Those injuries demonstrate that you had a reasonable fear and that the other person was capable of causing bodily injury.

Self-defense and "Stand Your Ground" are not the same thing

Anyone accused of murder or a similar offense, like manslaughter, in Florida who seeks to use a self-defense strategy in court may also contemplate a Stand Your Ground defense. There are important nuances that differentiate standard self-defense claims from Stand Your Ground claims.

In order to make sure you protect your best interests, you likely need to discuss your situation and the legal nuances with an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows Florida self-defense and Stand Your Ground laws.

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Certified | The Florida Bar | Criminal Trial Law

Andrew M. Coffey has been recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

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