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How to Prove Self-Defense after a St. Petersburg Arrest

Proving self-defense in St. Petersburg was the reason for your violent behavior can prevent you from being convicted of a crime. We understand that getting arrested for defending yourself is a shocking experience. Please contact our St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation, so we can clear your name of charges such as battery or assault.

What is Self-Defense in St. Petersburg, Florida

  • Self-defense is the term given to the intentions behind violent behavior used to protect oneself from another person’s imminent use of unlawful force.
  • It can be used to excuse someone from criminal charges for violent behavior if the alternative was getting hurt themselves.

What to Do If You Were Arrested for Self-Defense in St. Petersburg

If you’ve been arrested for a crime, but know you were acting in self-defense then you deserve a chance to clear your name. Please take care to follow these steps:

Remember What Happened

Try to recall what happened. Note down anything you can recall such as:
  • What time was it?
  • Where did the incident happen?
  • Who else was there?
  • Did anyone else see what happened?
  • What was said?
  • What verbal threats did you receive?
  • What physical threats did you receive?
  • What triggered you into your behavior?
  • Was anyone else vulnerable or in danger?

Retain Any Evidence

If you have any evidence of what happened, guard it safely. It will be critical in proving your case, for example:
  • Any evidence of injuries you sustained, such as photographs or doctor’s notes
  • Any videos or photographs of the incident
  • Any witness statements
  • The police report

Do Not Self-Incriminate

  • Do not make the mistake of incriminating yourself by admitting fault.
  • Do not make posts on social media about the event.
  • You also have the right to say “I don’t want to talk until I speak to a lawyer”.

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Please contact our St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible for a swift defense. If you were acting in self-defense, you don’t deserve to face criminal charges. We can quickly review the existing evidence and if required hunt down more from CCTV, witness statements and more. We will then use this to act fast in either avoiding trial entirely or proving your innocence in court.

What Reasons Are There for Self-Defense in St. Petersburg?

Did You Use Non-Deadly Force?

  • Florida Statute 776.012 states that a person is justified to use ‘non-deadly force’ as self-defense when they believe it is required to defend themselves from the imminent use of unlawful force.
  • There is no legal requirement to flee or retreat.
  • Florida statute 776.013, Florida Statutes states that you are presumed to have a reasonable fear or bodily harm if you were in your home or vehicle and someone unlawfully entered, remained or attempted to remove someone against their will.
For example, if someone said to you “I’m going to knock you out”, as they charged up to you, you would be justified to defend yourself with non-deadly force. Or, if someone started swinging punches at you and you punched or kicked them back, it would be reasonable self-defense.

Did You Use Deadly Force?

Deadly force is taken very seriously, but it may be justified in the case of self-defense.
  • Florida statute 776.012 states that a person is justified to use ‘deadly force’ if they believe it will prevent an imminent forcible felony, death or great bodily harm to themselves or another.
  • Forcible felonies include murder, arson, rape, kidnapping, and armed robbery.
  • Florida statute 782.02 also states that ‘deadly force’ is justified when a person is resisting any attempted murder or attempt to commit a felony on them, or their home.
For example, if someone attacked you with a knife or other weapon, you would fear for your life and be justified to use deadly force to survive. Or if someone was attempting to rape you, you would be justified to grab fight back to defend yourself even if that risked killing the person.

Were You in Your Home?

If you were in your home or vehicle, then Florida Statute 776.013 states that the law will presume you had reasonable fear or imminent death or bodily harm if; the person you attacked entered unlawfully, remained, or attempted to remove someone against their will. For example, if someone breaks into your home, then it is presumed reasonable to have a fear that warrants self-defense.

Exceptions to ‘Reasonable Fear’ Law

There are, however, exceptions to that law that don’t justify self-defense behavior such as:
  • The person on the property has a right to be there.
  • The person on the property was attempting to retrieve their child or grandchild, or other person they have legal custody over.
  • You were engaged in a crime or using your property to perform a crime.
  • The person on the property was a law enforcement officer and entered to perform their official duties after first clearly identifying themselves.

How Is Self-Defense Justification Determined?

To determine whether a defendant’s use of violence was self-defense, Florida law asks a jury to evaluate the defendant’s conduct via an ‘objective standard’ (basically, reasonable and fair). The jury will analyze the evidence and statements, to determine if a reasonable person would have also perceived an imminent threat in the same way. They will then determine if that threat justified the degree of force used by the defendant.
  • Non-deadly force: The behavior must have been considered ‘reasonable’ to protect from the imminent use of unlawful force.
  • Deadly force: The behavior must have been considered ‘reasonable’ to protect from imminent death, a forcible felony or great bodily harm.
To convict the defendant, the state must prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that the actions of the defendant were not self-defense. With a good attorney, this can be hard for them to do.

When Does Self-Defense Not Hold Up?

There are some cases where the court will deny self-defense as a justification for violence. These include:
  • A total lack of evidence
  • The defendant was attempting to commit or in the process of committing a forcible felony.
  • The defendant was the initial provocation of the violence.
    • In these scenarios, you can only claim self-defense if you were faced with imminent danger of great bodily harm and had already tried to withdraw from physical contact, flee or communicate a withdrawal.

Examples of Self-Defense Cases

Our St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers have successfully defended many people faced with criminal charges via self-defense claims. Some examples include:

Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers for a Self-Defense Case in St. Petersburg

If you’ve been charged with a crime in St. Petersburg, but believe you acted in self-defense then please contact our criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible. We will work fast to collect evidence that can support your case. We regularly help people avoid court entirely by getting cases dropped in advance.

Free Consultations

Sean McQuaid is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County. He has handled countless Florida DUI and DWI charges in his career. He is the president at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms with the reputation and connections to make things happen. With decades of experience helping people like you, we believe there is no better place to help you keep your license after a DUI in Florida. Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300

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