Justifiable Use of Force: Self Defense Gone Too Far?

fightingDepending on where and how you grew up, you may have been told as a child or heard someone else told, “If he hits you, hit him back!”  My neighborhood back home in southern Georgia  happened to be a place where such an attitude was common.  This type of advice is where many people are first introduced to the concept of self defense.  Florida law, under Chapter 776, contains a group of statutes that define the justifiable use of force, commonly known as self defense.  The law doesn’t mention anything about being able to “hit back” if someone hits you.  It’s a bit more refined than that.   Bouncers at a Florida bar could learn this lesson the hard way.

A brawl at a Saint Augustine Bar recently has people questioning whether bouncers went too far in breaking up a fight.  After two women began to fight, things were elevated by security at the Conch House in Saint Augustine, Florida. Much of the chaos was caught on video.  News4jax.com reported that the bouncers may have even thrown an unconscious person into the water.  Florida law allows you to defend yourself, even defend others, but there must be a reasonable amount of force used.

Florida Statute 776.012 states:  “A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.”  What this means is that you are allowed to use force to stop an ongoing attack against you.  Florida law allows a certain amount of force to be used in protecting your property, as well.

A Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer asked to comment on the brawl during the interview was spot on when he suggested that individuals are allowed to use force to keep themselves and others safe, but can’t go too far.  So when has self defense gone too far?  Well when the threat is eliminated, the force is no longer needed.  If the force used outweighs the threat, self defense or defense of another has likely gone too far.  At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced self defense lawyers that can help the law work for you if you or a loved one are in danger of being prosecuted for a crime when self defense is an issue in your case.  Call (904) 685-1200 today for a free initial consultation or to learn more about self defense and the use of force or deadly force.


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