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“Help! Rape!” Using Deadly Force to Defend a Third Party – Florida

Sexual assault stories have dominated the news recently, and we have received many questions about defending others against sexual assault and rape. We reached out to Independent Program Attorney David Katz to get the answers to your legal questions on defending a third party against rape and sexual assault.

David Katz: Florida Statutes 776.012  deals with the justified use of force in Florida. You have the same rights to protect another, including a loved one, as you would to protect yourself. Therefore, you can protect a loved one with a threat of non-deadly force, or by the use of non-deadly force if you reasonably believe that the use of such force is necessary to defend them against another’s imminent use of unlawful force. You can even use deadly force to protect someone else if you reasonably believe that using, or threatening to use, such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to them or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony against them.
The term forcible felony is defined in Florida Statute 776.08. Forcible felonies include, but are not limited to, murder, manslaughter, sexual battery, carjacking, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, and many other felonies which involved the use of physical force or violence against an individual. So remember if a loved one is in a situation where you reasonably believe it is necessary to use force or deadly force to protect
them, under Florida law you may do so. Unfortunately, it may be a jury that decides if your actions were reasonable and necessary.

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