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Can I Defend Myself in a Florida Mall Parking Lot?

The following is a video transcript.

The holidays are fast approaching and U.S. LawShield wishes all of our members a safe and wonderful holiday season. The holidays are not just a joyous occasion for the law-abiding citizen, but also for the criminals who take advantage of the season. Criminals know that people are distracted during this time of year with shopping and all the festivities the holidays bring with them. That is why it is extremely important to remain alert and aware of your environment at all times. This is especially important as we’re out doing holiday shopping, as there is no better opportunity for a criminal to attack than when we’re walking out in a mall parking lot at night, loaded down with shopping bags.

Always stay alert and pay attention to your surroundings in a parking lot. But, if you find yourself the prey of a criminal, it is equally important to know what the law allows you to do in order to protect yourself. Under Florida Law, a person is justified in using or threatening to use non-deadly force if he or she feels that such force is needed to prevent the imminent unlawful use of force by the attacker. Furthermore, you are allowed to use non-deadly force to protect your property. In order to be justified using or threatening to use deadly force, you must reasonably believe that such is needed to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself or another person.

You are also justified in using deadly force if such force is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony such as an aggravated assault, robbery, or sexual battery. Let’s apply the law to the typical holiday parking lot robbery. Imagine you are walking to your car loaded down with bags after a long day of shopping. As you approach your car, someone rushes you and tries to take your shopping bags or your purse from you.

Would you be justified in using non-deadly or deadly force to stop the attack? Without a doubt, you are justified in using non-deadly force. The attacker is touching you without your permission and is trying to take your property. You would be allowed to use non-deadly force to stop the attack and to protect your property.

So what about using deadly force? It will all come down to whether it is reasonable to believe death or great bodily harm is going to occur or if such force is necessary to stop the forcible felony of robbery. If the attacker has a weapon such as a knife or a gun, then there is no question you would be justified in using deadly force. However, if the attacker does not have a weapon, the question becomes more difficult to answer. If a weapon is not involved then other factors such as size, age, disability, the amount of force the attacker uses, and other factors surrounding the attack will become factors for the jury to determine if your actions were reasonable and necessary. Once the robbery is over with then you will no longer be justified in using deadly force.

However, although I do not advise it, you would be allowed to use non-deadly force to try and take back your property. Remember, just because you have the legal right to do something does not mean you should. No property is worth risking your life.

If you have any questions regarding the use of non-deadly or deadly force in Florida or any other self-defense related question, please give U.S. LawShield a call and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney. Have a safe holiday season.

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