Under what circumstances can I use deadly force to defend myself?
Florida’s stand your ground defense has been thrust into public attention since the controversial shooting that took place in Clearwater this past summer. Michael Drejka currently awaits trial for manslaughter after shooting Markels McGlockton in front of his girlfriend and children. Drejka has invoked the stand your ground defense, claiming that he shot McGlockton because he feared for his life. The case has captured the nation’s attention due to the many important questions it raises on self-defense and the racial element it involves. With so many questions swirling as to the validity of the stand your ground defense, our West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers outline the basics of the defense below.
Florida Statutes Sections 776.012 and 776.013
The Florida Legislature enacted the so-called “Stand Your Ground” law in 2005. The law, which is contained within Florida Statutes Sections 776.012 and 776.013, expands upon Florida’s traditional self-defense laws. Under current law, deadly force is justified, and the defendant will have no duty to retreat, if:
- The defendant reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to him or herself or others; or
- In defense of one’s property, the defendant is justified in using deadly force if he or she reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent commission of a forcible felony.
When a defendant can show that the use of deadly force falls under these parameters per Florida law, he or she could potentially receive immunity for the death inflicted. Many stand your ground cases involve burglaries wherein the homeowner shoots the burglar, but many other situations could fall under the defense.
The case of Drejka in Clearwater is controversial because the defendant is attempting to invoke the defense even when little evidence exists that McGlockton presented a deadly threat. Per facts released by the authorities, Drejka confronted McGlockton’s wife because they were parked in a handicapped spot at a convenience store. McGlockton shoved Drejka to the ground and Drejka is then seen on security footage pulling out a handgun and shooting a seemingly retreating McGlockton.
Drejka was initially not arrested because he invoked the stand your ground defense, but prosecutors later elected to pursue manslaughter charges. The nation will be watching as the case unfolds, and the case could eventually lead to important legal decisions regarding the validity of the stand your ground defense in cases in which the person killed is unarmed.
Contact Herman Law, P.A. for more information on Florida’s Stand Your Ground Defense.