Not every state permits the use of deadly force as a means of self- defense. Florida residents are fortunate to have a statute permitting you to “stand your ground.” Since the law is relatively new, it is still evolving, and lawmakers are presently considering a bill that will make a profound change in the way the law plays out in the courtroom.
If you recently faced an intruder or resorted to deadly force to protect yourself or your family, you may be concerned about having to prove that your actions were justified by the “stand your ground” statute. If the pending bill passes, the burden of proof will shift.
Instead of you trying to prove at trial that the “stand your ground” statute absolves you of culpability for the use of deadly force, the prosecution will have to prove that your actions were outside the scope of “stand your ground.” In other words, the court will assume you acted in self-defense unless your opponent proves otherwise. This attempt to prove you acted outside the scope of the statute must take place in a separate hearing before your trial date. Opponents of the bill say it is irresponsible and list numerous reasons for rejecting it, including:
- Prosecutors’ workloads will increase because every violent crime will require a preliminary “stand your ground” hearing.
- Additional hearings will cost millions of dollars in taxpayer money.
- The duration of each case will increase because of the extra hearings.
- The protection the bill offers will raise the likelihood that people will use deadly force when it may not be necessary.
Advocates of the law feel it is overdue because defendants currently must prove their innocence in light of the “stand your ground” law. With the new bill, the burden of proof will be on the prosecution to prove the liability of someone accused of a fatal shooting.
Don’t stand alone
In Florida, you have the right to defend yourself when you feel your life is in danger. However, until state lawmakers pass this pending bill, you may have a difficult time proving that the situation justified using deadly force.
If you are currently facing charges stemming from a self-defense shooting, it is likely that you are concerned and maybe even scared. Homicide, murder or manslaughter convictions carry significant consequences, and avoiding a conviction is understandably your best hope. Having experienced legal assistance will be crucial to the outcome of your case. An experienced criminal attorney will advocate for your rights and build the most effective defense strategy possible.