FSS 776: Justifiable Use Of Force
Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.
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Sherry and I were just going through Florida statute 775 and we could do an entire week long series on this odd statue but we just don’t have the time. So, Sherry, if you would, please release on over and to justifiable use of force.
SIJ: All right. Florida statute section 776 contains 12 subsections that discuss the justifiable use of force within the state of Florida.
The key question each one of these subsections of the statute attempts to answer is “is it legal to use force in this circumstance?“
There are subsections that discussed the use of force to prevent an escape, a law enforcement officer’s use of force to make an arrest, a prohibition on using or threatening to use if resisting an officer, the lawful use of force for self-defense, property and the defense of others, just to name just a few.
Criminal defense attorney Stephen G. Cobb: Not to get ahead, but tell us about the implications for law-enforcement officers who detain and arrest a suspect who should have been immune from prosecution? We get a lot of questions about this section of law from our viewers.
SIJ: You know, the use of deadly force has been an area of incredible legal controversy. The legislature has amended the law regarding stand your ground and self-defense multiple times within the last 15 years.
A plain reading of Florida statute section 776.032 clearly states that if someone is wrongfully detained by law-enforcement and wrongfully prosecuted as determined by a judge later on, then that person wrongfully charged can have their legal fees paid when they become a civil plaintiff after the criminal case has been resolved in their favor.
Criminal defense attorney Stephen G. Cobb: Critics have complained that this particular section of statutory law makes Florida a free fire zone. This criticism has only intensified after the mass shooting at Parkland.
This is an area of law – along with just about every other area of law regarding firearms – that is undergoing rapid transformation.
SIJ: This is going to be a regular thing. Each election seems to bring several bills about firearms law and many of them are completely opposite to each other. A slight change in the legislature and you could have gun laws continue to whip back and forth.
Criminal defense attorney Stephen G. Cobb: Absolutely. This area of law seems to change every single legislative session. Traditional defenses such as defense of persons or property have been around since common law, but both defense of persons in Florida Statute 776.012 and Florida Statute 776.013, home protection and presumptions regarding the burden of proof in such situation, have been amended three times each since the revision in 2005.
Justifiable use of force is increasing fact pattern specific, and attention to the rules of evidence have never been more important.
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