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Legal Defenses in Florida Criminal Law

In any criminal case, the first issue is whether the prosecutor for the State of Florida can prove each and every element of the criminal offense. In other words, "did a crime occur and was the defendant the one who committed the crime?"

Even when the prosecutors for the State of Florida can prove that the criminal offense occurred, the defendant may still be able to avoid a finding of guilt if a factual, justification, excuse or procedural defense can be established under Florida law.

If you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney with offices in Tampa, FL, then contact an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. You can schedule a consultation either over the phone or in the office. We represent clients throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Polk County, and Pinellas County, FL.


Affirmative Criminal Defenses - Justifications and Excuses

For affirmative defenses used during a jury trial, the defendant must present some evidence supporting an affirmative defense before the Court is required to instruct the jury on the defense. If the defendant presents sufficient evidence to warrant the instruction, then the jury is instructed on the defense.

In most self-defense cases, the defendant will request and should receive an instruction on both deadly and non-deadly use of force for self-defense. Deadly force used for self-defense typically involves the use of a weapon, such as a baseball bat, a knife, or a firearm. On the other hand, non-deadly force for self-defense typically involves pushing, punching or striking another person.

Any weapon can theoretically be used in a deadly or non-deadly manner for self-defense purposes. The only type of scenario under Florida law that may qualify as deadly force as a matter of law is when a firearm is discharged or fired. For almost every other factual scenario, both the Florida deadly and non-deadly force self-defense instruction should be read to the jury.


Different Types of Criminal Defenses


Procedural Criminal Defenses

Under Florida law procedural defenses include the right to a speedy trial, and protections against double jeopardy and res judicata.


Factual Defenses

  • Alibi

Motion Hearings

  • Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence
  • Motion to Suppress Statements - Miranda Violation
  • Motion to Dismiss

Additional Resources

The Wes Kleinert Fair Interview Act - The Wes Kleinert Fair Interview Act was recently passed by the Florida legislature under Chapter 2016-175. This recently passed legislation requires the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to issue an identification card exhibiting a special designation for a person who has a developmental disability. The new legislation also creates Section 943.0439 to require a law enforcement officer, correctional officer, or another public safety official to make a good faith effort, upon the request of a parent, a guardian, or the individual, to ensure that specified professionals are present at all interviews of an individual diagnosed with autism or an autism spectrum disorder, etc. This new legislation applies to victims, witnesses and defendants. The statute specifically states that the failure of law enforcement to do so is not grounds for suppression of a statement or the contents of the interview, or for a cause of action against law enforcement.


Attorney for Florida Legal Defenses in Tampa, FL

Contact the Sammis Law Firm to discuss with a Florida criminal lawyer how a particular criminal defense may apply to the facts of your case. We defend people charged with criminal offenses throughout the State of Florida.

We represent clients in the Tampa Bay Area, including Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County, Polk County, Pasco County and Sarasota County and the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Bartow, Dade City, New Port Richey, and Plant City. Contact an aggressive and experienced Tampa criminal attorney today for a free consultation to discuss your arrest and prosecution under Florida law.


This article was last updated on Thursday, September 20, 2016.