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Old April 12, 2012, 01:29 AM   #1
Sigasaurus Rex
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Florida case law re: self-defense

Does anyone know any good sites where I can find information on case law as it relates to armed self-defense in Florida? Looking for trials, appeals court decisions, ect...

Be advised, I am not trying to initiate a discussion of a certain high-profile case. I am interested in what might be learned from Florida's case law as a whole.
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Last edited by Sigasaurus Rex; April 12, 2012 at 01:36 AM.
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Old April 12, 2012, 07:40 AM   #2
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This guy is the #1 source on the subject.

http://www.floridafirearmslaw.com/mm...Store_Code=FFL
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Old April 12, 2012, 02:27 PM   #3
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If there's information on Florida case law on that web site, I couldn't find it. It's devoted to advertising the owner's law practice and his book on Florida firearms laws.

It may be that the information Sigasaurus wants is in the book, but one would have to buy it to find out; entering "case law" in the book keyword search function produced no results.
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Old April 12, 2012, 04:05 PM   #4
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Florida revised the law only a year or so ago. There won't be much case law regarding the current version of the law, and that's the only one we need to worry about. Stay tuned on the Zimmerman case.
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Old April 12, 2012, 07:42 PM   #5
Frank Ettin
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Unfortunately, if can be pretty tough to reliably search for and find case law, except for major cases that sometimes find their way into free Internet sites.

I use Fastcase, but it's not free. And even though it's expensive, it's a good deal less expensive than Westlaw and Lexis, both of which I used to use when I worked for a living and the firm was paying.
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Old April 13, 2012, 06:15 AM   #6
wally626
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VA post their appellate court decisions in a searchable database. Not sure if FL does or not. Of course you cannot get district court cases this way. A lot of gun law never makes it to appellate court so without access to a law library or its on-line equivalent it would be hard to find.
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Old April 14, 2012, 04:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Posted by Vanya:
If there's information on Florida case law on that web site, I couldn't find it. It's devoted to advertising the owner's law practice and his book on Florida firearms laws.

It may be that the information Sigasaurus wants is in the book, but one would have to buy it to find out; entering "case law" in the book keyword search function produced no results.
That’s right. The author isn’t going to post the contents of his book online so you can download it free.

Anyone who owns a gun in Florida and doesn’t own the book is just asking for trouble. There’s information in there that you won’t find anywhere else and that you seriously need to know.

It’s the best $35 you can spend.
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Old April 14, 2012, 08:42 PM   #8
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Japle
That’s right. The author isn’t going to post the contents of his book online so you can download it free.

Anyone who owns a gun in Florida and doesn’t own the book is just asking for trouble. There’s information in there that you won’t find anywhere else and that you seriously need to know.
But the question was specifically asking for case law, and given the comparative newness of Florida's "stand your ground" law, I reiterate that I very much doubt there is much case law to be found that is specific to the law in its current form.
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Old April 15, 2012, 03:58 PM   #9
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Aguila Blanca, you're right. As I understand it, case law requires an appeal. If I'm wrong about that, please correct me.

One of the things Mr. Gutmacher stresses in his book is that deadly force can’t be used against someone who’s committing misdemeanor assault. In other words, you can’t shoot an unarmed jerk who threatens to kick your butt. Even if he punches you repeatedly, that’s still a misdemeanor.

If you’re convinced he means to inflict “serious bodily harm”, you’d better have witnesses on hand who are on your side and will back you up in court. His buddies will lie, you’ll be arrested and even if you manage to get off, it’ll cost you a whole lot of money. The average aggravated assault case starts at around $15,000 and goes up quick.

Just showing your gun is considered aggravated assault and is good for a three year mandatory prison sentence. If you shoot him and you’re convicted, it’s 25 years mandatory. That means no probation. No time off for anything. You’ll do every day of the 25 years.

After learning all this, I started carrying, in addition to my XDm 9mm and P3AT BUG, a stun gun.

FWIW, the stun gun makes a wonderful dog defense. Just buzz the stunner at him and he’ll back off quick. The noise and the crazy bright spark really do the trick.
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Old April 15, 2012, 08:36 PM   #10
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Japle
One of the things Mr. Gutmacher stresses in his book is that deadly force can’t be used against someone who’s committing misdemeanor assault. In other words, you can’t shoot an unarmed jerk who threatens to kick your butt. Even if he punches you repeatedly, that’s still a misdemeanor.

If you’re convinced he means to inflict “serious bodily harm”, you’d better have witnesses on hand who are on your side and will back you up in court. His buddies will lie, you’ll be arrested and even if you manage to get off, it’ll cost you a whole lot of money. The average aggravated assault case starts at around $15,000 and goes up quick.

Just showing your gun is considered aggravated assault and is good for a three year mandatory prison sentence. If you shoot him and you’re convicted, it’s 25 years mandatory. That means no probation. No time off for anything. You’ll do every day of the 25 years.
If the above is an example of the advice in the book, I think I'll keep the money in my pocket.

I'm a senior citizen with medical issues. Anyone under the age of about 70 who takes a swing at me is sufficiently a threat for me to fear death or serious bodily injury. What the assailant's intentions are don't enter into the equation. I am the victim, and the way the law reads, if I reasonably fear death or serious bodily injury, I can defend myself with lethal force. Whether or not he is unarmed is also immaterial. A single punch can kill you or turn you into a permanent vegetable.

Keep your book. It's worthless.

Last edited by Aguila Blanca; April 16, 2012 at 10:13 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old April 15, 2012, 08:51 PM   #11
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The thing is that someone like Aguila Blanca (or me, for that matter) would be able to articulate why a reasonable and prudent person in like circumstances (i. e., a geezer like us) could reasonably conclude that an unarmed attacked by someone clearly younger and stronger could kill or gravely injury us. That's called disparity of force.

On the other hand, claiming justified use of lethal force against one or more unarmed assailants on a disparity of force theory can be an uphill fight. While Larry Hickey, Mark Abshire and Gerald Ung were ultimately able to prevail in their legal battles, they didn't have easy times of it.

Perhaps Mr. Gutmarcher explains it all a little more artfully and in greater depth than it's been paraphrased.
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Old April 16, 2012, 04:53 AM   #12
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[QUOTEOne of the things Mr. Gutmacher stresses in his book is that deadly force can’t be used against someone who’s committing misdemeanor assault. In other words, you can’t shoot an unarmed jerk who threatens to kick your butt. Even if he punches you repeatedly, that’s still a misdemeanor.
][/QUOTE]

Herein lies the real problem, if someone is punching you repeatedly, you are to busy getting hit to be able to distinguish misdemeanor from felony assault.

I serve in the fire/EMS field and I have learned that higher-level thinking is extremely difficult when you are under physical/emotional stress and dealing with the effects of fear.
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Old April 16, 2012, 08:28 AM   #13
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I wonder if any court has ever allowed a demonstration of how quickly a person can be injured or rendered unconscious by a person who knows what he's doing. That might be an eye opener.

Trained yesterday with an aikido 6th dan; my nearly healed shooting hand (from a seminar a couple weeks ago - hyperextended my middle finger) isn't so happy, at the moment, as he used me for some sankyo demonstrations. He's 61, and 5'7" or so. I'm early 40s, 6' and 205lbs, and he had me hopping around on tip-toes and doing my best not to yip like a tortured puppy.

In previous schools, I've choked out and submitted people. It's not hard to do, when one knows how to do it - although that depends on the other guy's abilities.

But I do wonder just how much (if at all) a prosecutor's opinion might change if the prosecutor ever agreed to be the subject of such a demonstration.
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Old April 16, 2012, 12:19 PM   #14
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There are some law articles about the responsibilities of martial artists. If attacked by one - that would come up.

The flip side is that if you are a trained MA type, you might have to prove why you didn't do the reverse Jade Dragon Flaming Nose Tickle rather than hose the guy with your Kel-tec.
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Old April 16, 2012, 01:59 PM   #15
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I think the counter to that would be that in my semi expert opinion, the other guy had skills or strength beyond my ability to control, and by implication had the ability to cause death or grave bodily injury.

I would think that might be appropriate, given that police officers are allowed to cite their own training and experience in analyzing body language, furtive or erratic behavior, etc.

But I still wonder if any court has allowed a demo of the type I suggested.
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Old April 16, 2012, 03:05 PM   #16
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Quote:
Posted by Aguila Blanca:
If the above is an example of the advice in the book, I think I'll keep the money in my pocket.

I'm a senior citizen with medical issues. Anyone under the age of about 70 who takes a swing at me is sufficiently a threat for me to fear death or serious bodily injury. What the assailant's intentions are don't enter into the equation. I am the victim, and the way the law reads, if [b]I[/i] reasonably fear death or serious bodily injury, I can defend myself with lethal force. Whether or not he is unarmed is also immaterial. A single punch can kill you or turn you into a permanent vegetable.

Keep your book. It's worthless.

Posted by Frank Ettin:
Perhaps Mr. Gutmarcher explains it all a little more artfully and in greater depth than it's been paraphrased.
Of course that’s the case. I’m not about to type out everything Mr. Gutmacher says on the subject, including the “disparity of force” issue.

In addition, what you think is reasonable and what a jury (most of whom know nothing about the law they haven’t learned from “Miami Vice “ reruns) will think is reasonable may be two very different things. If a judge decides there’s enough question about the legality of your actions to let it go to a jury, you’d better have a bunch of spare change in your jeans
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Old April 18, 2012, 11:01 PM   #17
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Good legal resources, websites....

I'd check a few of these websites;
www.Mylicensesite.com www.Myfloridalegal.com www.Handgunlaw.us www.nra.org www.gunlawguide.com
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Old April 19, 2012, 05:25 AM   #18
Sigasaurus Rex
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Quote:
I wonder if any court has ever allowed a demonstration of how quickly a person can be injured or rendered unconscious by a person who knows what he's doing. That might be an eye opener.
That's a really interesting question. It might go to show that "disparity of force" issues are not always very clear cut. Sometimes on the darkened street at night, it is not immediately apparent what a possible assailant's physical capabilities will be. I have encountered some very large and muscular individuals who are "gentle giants" and would never hurt a fly. On the other hand, the guy who's 5'4" and has some training combined with a healthy dose of anger and sociopathy might be the one to kill you.
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Old April 19, 2012, 10:50 AM   #19
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Florida case law, legal precidents, 2005 event...

Many people outside central Florida(including about 95% of the national media) are aware of other use of force events or situations where an "unarmed" subject inflicted serious injuries to an armed person or 493 license holder.
WFTV-TV, the Orlando ABC station; www.wftv.com , made a point about a 2005 incident where 2 armed-G security officers in Sanford Florida shot & killed a "unarmed" subject who reportedly drove a vehicle at both guards in a dispute.
A big uproar in the community led the local Florida State Atty office to bring criminal charges against the security guards. One officer had all charges dropped & the other later was set free by a jury trial.
There was another major incident in Orlando in 2009/2010 I recall where a uniformed female deputy(Orange County, www.OCSO.com ), chased an "unarmed" male out of a Home Depot. The larger male subject attacked the patrol deputy beat her, then pounded her head into the pavement. The sworn deputy was in a ICU for several days & suffered a TBI(brain injury) from the attack. This incident was not mentioned by any local or national media network, .
Use of force events can occur with unarmed subjects. The smart move is to be aware of the law & legal precidents in your area. Don't be swayed by media hype, chaos or bias either. Many people have agendas or distort facts.
As the old saying states: In war, the first causality is the truth.

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Old April 19, 2012, 10:54 AM   #20
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Wherever you look, it might change. There is a committee being formed Thursday to reevaluate the state's gun laws due to Zimmerman shooting.
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Old April 19, 2012, 11:29 AM   #21
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A word to the wise -- if folks start talking about the Zimmerman matter, this thread will be closed (as others before it have already), posts will disappear and involved members will not be happy.
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Old April 21, 2012, 11:16 PM   #22
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Thanks very much guys for the references. I think I'll read the State v. Dennis and Peterson cases 1st.
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