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Stand Your Ground, Justifiable Use of Force Requires Force

| May 13, 2019 | Criminal

In criminal cases alleging the use of force a defendant may seek immunity from prosecution. Today, this is called Stand Your Ground, but it has always been true that self-defense is a viable defense to any use of force case. A person seeking immunity has the burden to put forth evidence that the use of force alleged was reasonable against another’s imminent use of unlawful force.

Maybe lost in all of this is that the defendant has to use force in order to qualify for immunity. What force? How much force? A trial judge recently held that a Defendant, accused of battery, who claimed to have shielded himself by raising his right hand, with an open palm and raising his right leg to protect the baby he was carrying could not use a Stand Your Ground Defense because he did not use ‘force’.  (Sounded like some force to this writer)

Specifically, that judge wrote that the “Defendant did not testify that he struck, shoved, or otherwise took any forceful action against the alleged victim.” In other words, the open palm and leg raise that assuredly gave rise to the battery allegation were not enough force to argue that the conduct was justified. The Court found that merely denying the allegations is insufficient and that the statute contemplates that a defendant will seek to justify the use of some force as necessary to protect himself. Now, how much force is enough force is going to be ripe for litigation.  The problem seems to have been that the Defendant tried to deny using force. He may have simply overexplained himself out of having his case dismissed and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Criminal cases and in particular Stand Your Ground cases are tricky as the opinion referred to here shows. Each case depends on its own set of facts. How those facts are delivered decides the case.  Please click or call to hire a lawyer to present your case.