Although Florida statutes do not define the term “force” or “deadly force,” our standard jury instructions provide some guidance.
Legally Justified Use of Force and Deadly Force
Florida Standard Criminal Jury Instruction 3.6(g) defines non-deadly force as force not likely to cause death or great bodily harm, and 3.6(f) defines deadly force as force likely to cause death or great bodily harm. To be legally justified to use force, a person must reasonably believe that the use of force is necessary to defend himself or herself or another from imminent or immediate use of force against them. To be legally justified to use deadly force, a person must reasonably believe that using deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another, or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
Using Force in Florida
Gun owners: it is important you know that anytime you display your firearm in a self-defense situation, under Florida law, you have used force. Further, anytime you discharge your firearm in a self-defense situation, you have used deadly force. Even if the discharge was a warning shot and they aimed straight into the ground, or an accidental discharge as you attempted to pull your weapon from the holster.
If you have any questions about the legal application of legally justified use of force or deadly force or similar legal phrases, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.