In some states, you’re obligated to try to retreat from a fight if you can — with the usual exception that you aren’t expected to flee your own home rather than defend yourself.
In Florida, the “Stand Your Ground” law allows people the right to fight — or even use deadly force — rather than back away or run if they feel threatened. The controversial law has lead to some highly-publicized deaths and a lot of protests over the last decade.
Recently, however, lawmakers seemed to thumb their noses at protesters who wanted the law revoked. Instead, they broadened it — shifting the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecutor in any case where the defendant claims that he or she acted in self-defense. Prior to the change, defendants charged with killing someone, for example, could claim the act was done in self-defense under the Stand Your Ground law — but they had to prove that their fears were reasonable under the circumstances.
Once the law changed, prosecutors couldn’t even take a case to trial unless they could prove — at least to a judge’s satisfaction during pretrial hearings — that a self-defense claim was bogus.
Now, the powers have shifted again. Two judges have ruled that the changes to the law are unconstitutional, saying that only Florida’s highest court could grant that particular shift in authority and burden.
While the second ruling was specifically directed at a case where the defendant is charged in an attempted murder case, the implications go much further than any specific case. This could have a significant impact on the cases of any defendants who are still relying on the Stand Your Ground defense to protect them from trial right now.
If you’ve been charged with a serious crime that involves the Stand Your Ground defense, make sure that you get an experienced attorney in your corner. For more information about how our firm may be able to help your criminal defense case, please visit our web pages.