In 2017, updates that had previously been made to the “stand your ground" law in Florida were ruled to be unconstitutional by Judge Milton Hirsch. The update to the law would have required state and local prosecutors to disprove a defendant's self-defense case during pretrial hearings.
According to Judge Hirsch, the amendment to the stand your ground law gave lawmakers too much authority, stating that the amendment should have first been crafted by the Florida Supreme Court. In his opinion, Judge Hirsch said, “As a matter of constitutional separation of powers, that procedure cannot be legislatively modified.”
Back in 2015, the Florida Supreme Court ruled to shift the burden in stand your ground cases from prosecutors to the defendants. This meant that defendants were required to prove their actions constituted self-defense if they wanted to avoid being prosecuted for a violent crime.
Prosecutors opposed the amendment because they believed it made it easier for defendants to get away from murder charges, and because it required them to provide "clear and convincing" evidence that a defendant was not using violent force as an act of self-defense.
What Is the Stand Your Ground Law?
In 2005, Florida passed a stand your ground law that gave people the legal right to "shoot first" if they believed their lives were in danger when confronted with a violent situation.
According to the law:
“A person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself."
The stand your ground law granted judges the authority to dismiss charges against defendants if a reasonable level of self-defense was used in the case.
Speak to a Sarasota Violent Crimes Attorney
If you are being charged for a violent crime after defending yourself, you’ll need the skills of an experienced lawyer on your side to ensure your rights are fully protected. At Wyndel G. Darville, PLLC, our team of compassionate legal professionals are committed to defending clients across Florida, and we have the resources and knowledge you need to secure a fair case result. Let us take a look at your case today so we can get started building your legal strategy.