In this three-part article, we are educating you on self-defense. In the first section, we discussed your legal rights in the State of Florida with the “Stand Your Ground Law.” In the second section, we discussed when self-defense does not apply. In this final section, we will discuss the topic of self-defense in the courtroom. If you have been accused of a serious crime, like manslaughter, but were acting in self-defense, please contact a manslaughter defense attorney in Tampa today.
When the “self-defense” argument is presented to a court, the jury is tasked with analyzing the case from the perspective of whether or not the use of force was something that a “reasonable person” would have engaged in at the time of the incident. Although opinions of what a “reasonable person” would do may vary, the concept is whether or not the person was justified in believing that their life was in danger.
An example of this reasonable person concept is “the neighbor delivering the mail” scenario. If it was broad daylight and your neighbor politely knocked on your door and waited for you on your front porch and was shot and killed this would clearly not be self-defense. However, if an intruder forcibly entered your home late at night with a weapon and was shot and killed then this could be considered an act of self-defense that a reasonable person would engage in to protect themselves and their family. Although this is an extreme example of two entirely different types of incidents, the point is that the jury needs to conclude that the person was in immediate danger and justified in their act of self-defense.
When presenting an act of self-defense to the jury, the prosecution is inclined to prove that this claim of self-defense was invalid beyond a reasonable doubt. As long as the defendant had a valid reason for believing they were in imminent danger and acted to protect themselves, the State must prove this to be false. If you have been accused of a serious and violent crime and you acted in self-defense, speak with a knowledgeable attorney that has handled self-defense cases before. The right defense can be the difference between a long prison sentence and having your case dismissed.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.