Articles Posted in Self-Defense

NFL star running back, Ray Rice, has been all over headlines lately after a video surfaced that shows Rice punching his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in the face… knocking her out cold. TMZ.com first posted the full video on September 8, 2014. The video shows Rice hit Palmer inside an elevator, then drags her out after he knocks her unconscious.

Rice was indicted for aggravated assault as a result of the domestic violence incident that took place. The incident occurred in Atlantic City; Palmer was also charged with assault by Atlantic County, but the charges against her were later dismissed. Other States label offenses differently in some circumstances. In Florida, Rice’s conducted would be labeled as battery, rather than assault. A battery occurs when a person is touched or struck against the person’s will. An assault occurs when a victim is put in fear of being touched or struck. The fear has to be reasonable and the person threatening some sort of harm must have an apparent ability to follow through with the threat.

A battery or assault offense can carry a range of degrees in Florida, and accordingly there is a range of possible penalties that apply. Additionally, domestic battery convictions result in the loss of firearm rights, even in cases where the offense is not a felony offense. Criminal defense lawyers most often look to self defense as a shield against battery or assault charges. In cases like Ray Rice’s case where the attack is on video and clearly shows that self defense is not an available defense, an experienced criminal defense attorney that can negotiate on behalf of the defendant is invaluable.
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If you were to ask a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer when was a good time for his or her client to resist an officer, the most likely answer you would get is, “never”. Most of the time, resisting an officer invites unwanted trouble. Over the years I’ve seen many clients who could have avoided arrest all together by simply relaxing. Whatever the reason was that the officer had to “harass” the client went away, but the Resisting Without Violence offense that came as a result of the client walking away when the officer had a legally valid reason for the stop would still stick around; often leading to a night in jail and unnecessary court costs and other fees.

In a July 23, 2014 article entitled Know Your Rights Under Florida Law, I discussed some of the basics regarding what you should do (and not do) when you encounter police. That article also contains a link to an ACLU rights card that is available as a free download and is very informative about your rights. It is never a good idea to physically resist an officer, with incredibly limited exception. Usually, the consequences of not putting your hands behind your back as directed means an additional offenses being charged, additional fines, and the like. Well, in the case of 43 year old Eric Garner, the ultimate price was paid after Mr. Garner refused to be taken in to custody in New York.

Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by police while officers tried to subdue Mr. Garner, who pulled away when they attempted to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes, according to FindLaw.com. An eyewitness recorded the entire incident. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LSBpwmMnVM Continue reading

There are probably people that would say, “Yes!” if asked whether Florida’s current legal climate unconstitutionally limits the rights of citizens to carry guns; while some will disagree with that opinion. Lawyers in Florida, politicians, anti-gun groups, pro-gun groups, and all others in between have different opinions on the issue because the answer isn’t straight forward.

gun-and-bullets-1146529-m.jpgBoth extremes, pro- and anti-gun groups, alike, have validity to the concerns that they have surrounding the issue. As a United States citizen, I want the full protections and benefits of constitutional rights that have been guaranteed to each of us, although, I feel somewhat uneasy at the thought of people walking around openly with guns in their hands or on their hips like cowboys. However, my feelings and the feelings of those that agree or disagree is not what are important. The important thing to consider is what the law requires, specifically the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution.

The 2nd amendment to the United States Constitution declares, “[. . .] the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Florida’s Constitution, in Section 8 of Article I, states, “[t]he right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.” Exercising it’s police powers, the State of Florida in its own constitution puts a qualifier on the right to bear arms granted in the U.S. Constitution by adding that the State may regulate the manner in which it’s citizens bears arms.
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Currently, a controversial question has come about in Florida: Should a convicted felon, who because of his status as a convicted felon has lost the right to legally own or possess a gun, be afforded the chance to claim self-defense and be immune from prosecution if he shoots someone while defending his home? More scenarios exists that create legal justification, but the defense of one’s home is the most recognizable situation that comes to mind for most people. The Florida Supreme Court is currently awaiting legal briefs and oral arguments from attorneys so that the high court can decide if Stand Your Ground applies to convicted felons, each side hoping to sway the court in its favor.

If reasonably justified under the facts relating to a particular situation, the average non-felon Florida citizen will be afforded the benefits and protection of the Stand Your Ground law when forced to use the lethal force of a gun for protection from a home invader, for instance. Depending on the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue, Florida criminal defense attorneys may have a new tool in the defense of some clients.

There is no requirement to quiver in fear or run away, tail tucked between your legs, when someone attempts to use lethal or deadly force against you in Florida under the state’s Justified Use of Deadly Force statutes. This principle is commonly referred to as Stand Your Ground. Under the proper circumstances, Florida law makes a person immune from criminal and civil liability after lawful self-defense is exercised.
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gun-close-up-940614-m.jpgThis week the Florida the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Subcommittee heard testimony and argument on a bill that wanted to repeal the law self-defense law in Florida called “Stand Your Ground” which allows an individual to defend themselves instead of being forced to retreat when confronted by an attacker and use deadly force when the person believes that their life is in jeopardy.

Although 22 states currently have some form of the stand your ground law, Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law received national attention during the Trayvon Martin case, despite the defense never being asserted by his Zimmerman’s defense counsel. In Florida, Florida Statute 776.032 grants immunity from criminal and civil prosecution to individuals who exercise their right to use force in defense of themselves or others.

Specifically, Florida Statute 776.032 provides that “a person who uses force as permitted in Florida Statutes 776.012, 776.013 or 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force.” This is the statute that has been termed the “Stand Your Ground Law.”
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Every fall millions of Americans avidly cheer for their favorite College or NFL team and boo their opposition. With the Jacksonville landing hosting Florida-Georgia activities this weekend, we are reminded of last year’s incidents during Florida-Georgia weekend that resulted with one person in the hospital and landed another fan in jail charged with aggravated battery.

Last year’s incident at Florida-Georgia was not uncommon. Back in 2011 a pre-season game of the Raiders and 49ers resulted in two fans being shot and another beaten. Last October a fan was stabbed on the way to a football game betwee49ers versus New York Giants game. Then again during the playoffs in January during the NFC Championship game an Atlanta Falcons fan was stabled in the neck right outside of the Georgia Dome. Back in February three teenagers were stabled when attending the Ravens victory parade. I bet not one of these fans thought they would end up in jail or the hospital that day.

Unfortunately the violence between fans and of fans continues. Just last weekend four fans at the Jets v. Patriots game allowed their team spirit to turn into violence against fans of the opposing team. This led three Patriots fans, and one Jets fan to be charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct. A verbal conflict is alleged to have escalated into a physical altercation when the Patriots fans kicked and punched the Jets fan. The Jets fan in return punched one of the Patriots fans. Most commentators are focusing on whether or not self-defense is a valid legal defense in that case. The Jets’ fan’s attorney stated, “it is clear that Kurt was defending himself, his mother and his friends from an attack.”

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyGeorge Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder in the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, is going to ask for a “stand your ground” court hearing in an attempt to have the case against him dismissed before ever going to trial. Though the move was expected, the announcement is the first time Zimmerman’s attorney has acknowledged his intention to argue the case on the grounds of the controversial Florida Stand Your Ground law.

Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s criminal defense attorney, released a statement confirming the decision earlier today. The hearing likely will not take place for several months but is meant to show that Zimmerman acted in his own self-defense.

Under Florida’s stand your ground law, people involved in violent altercations have no duty to retreat. If a person is in fear of death or great bodily harm, the law says he or she can act in self-defense and is immune from criminal prosecution.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyGiven the worry surrounding the Colorado movie theater slaying, background checks for concealed weapons permits have jumped tremendously across the country. Recent data indicates the jump is as much as 14% in Florida. That translates to an extra 2,386 requests for permits in the week since the shooting at The Dark Knight Rises premier in Aurora.

People across the country have moved to get concealed weapons permits partially out of a desire for protection and partially out of fear that increased government regulations may be lurking in the not so distant future. While the whole country has seen a surge in gun purchases, the bump in Florida puts the state very close to an important milestone.

Currently, Florida has around 950,000 citizens with concealed weapons permits which means the state is getting very close to becoming the first state in the nation to issue one million such permits. According to the Florida Agriculture Commissioner, Adam Putnam, Florida issues around 15,000 such permits each month which should mean the state crosses the million mark around the end of the year.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyA Florida man who shot and wounded two people as they tried to rob an Internet café is unlikely to face criminal charges because his actions appear to fall within the bounds of the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

The law, which was passed in 2005, says people are justified in using deadly force to defend themselves if they reasonably believe that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death, great bodily harm or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. A citizen has no duty to retreat and, if it is determined that their use of force was justified, they are immune from criminal prosecution and civil action. The Stand Your Ground law does not apply if the victim initially provokes the use of force of if they are involved in a felony crime.

Prosecutors said they had reviewed surveillance video from the Café in Ocala, Florida and believe that 71-year-old Samuel Williams was acting lawfully when he shot two men during the attempted robbery. Williams had a concealed weapons permit and thus was allowed to possess the weapon at the time of the shooting.

Jacksonville Criminal AttorneyAs any experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney for any reason, please contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC by using the contact form on this page or calling us at (904) 685-1200.

Source: “Supreme Court expands plea bargain rights of criminal defendants,” by The Associated Press, published at WashingtonPost.com.

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