Florida’s stand your ground received a lot of attention when George Zimmerman was placed on trial for second-degree murder for the death of Trayvon Martin. This case made a law that many people had never heard of a national debate topic. Regardless of whether you are a supporter or critic of the law, a new bill was filed this month that would change how stand your ground works in the State of Florida.
Florida’s Current Stand Your Ground Law
Under the current stand your ground law, when a person is attacked while they are in their home or car, they do not have to retreat. This means that they can defend themselves. The law currently provides people who are threatened to use force or threaten to use force when they are at home or in their cars. If they are defending themselves or their property, they can use deadly force if they feel that they are at risk of great bodily harm or death.
When a person has a stand your ground case, a pretrial evidentiary hearing is held. As the law stands currently, the burden of proof is in the hands of the people using this defense during those hearings. The reasoning behind this is that people should be required to establish that the force they used was legally justified. The new bill presented to the legislature does not question when the stand your ground law should be applied, but rather who has the burden of proof during the pre-trial evidentiary hearing.
What Do the Proposed Changes Mean?
The new bill that was filed by Dennis Baxley would require the state to have the burden of proof when a person argues that they used self-defense. This is in response to a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court that held the burden of proof belonged to the individual and not the prosecutor. Stand your ground cases have a pre-trial evidentiary hearing. These hearings are where it is decided if defendants should be prosecuted under the law.
It is important to understand that this bill is not yet Florida law. A decision on whether this bill becomes law will take place during the 2016 legislative session. However, if the bill is passed, it will apply retroactively to pending cases that involve stand your ground laws. Supporters of the bill feel that people who use self-defense to protect themselves and their property have to go through a trial where they would be entitled to be acquitted.
Are You Facing Charges?
If you are currently facing assault or murder charges and you feel that stand your ground could be a defense, you should contact an attorney today. Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law are available to listen and analyze the details of your case to determine whether you have a stand your ground defense. To set up an initial consultation, contact our firm by calling 407-377-0150. Our experienced team will be able to determine if stand your ground applies and prepare a strong defense on your behalf.