Florida Possible Expansion of the Stand Your Ground Law
The Stand Your Ground Law has been on the forefront of controversy in the state of Florida since the George Zimmerman trial. In this case, the man who shot and killed the teen was found not guilty under the umbrella of the law’s sanitary. This law allows for individuals to use deadly force without retreat, in the instance they feel their life is being threaten. According to recent publications, on March 15, 2017 the Florida Senate passed a “revised” Stand Your Ground bill. The vote was a whopping 23 to 15, and will be up for review by the House in the coming weeks. With Florida being one of the states that has had several notorious cases use this defense, the governing bodies wish to raise the requirement of the defense.
Florida, setting a new standard
Currently, Florida is the first state that has looked into intensifying its self-defense laws. If passed, it would be the first state to increase the standard requirements of the law. In the creation of this new standard the state will alter the responsibility of evidence, and standard of proof. It will also raise requirements for all cases who would want to use self-defense to gain immunity. Currently, the state of Florida and 22 other states, allows defendants to supply the evidence needed for their claim, and only require that evidence be, “not beyond a reasonable doubt.” The new standard would shift that burden of proof to prosecutors, and require that the evidence be “beyond a reasonable doubt”. This means that the prosecution, will have to conduct a mini trial with no jury present that will require victims and witnesses to testify twice. This double testifying could beneficial for defendant because they won’t have to testify, and loose the risk of self-incrimination.
The revised law has some critics on both sides that have valid reasoning behind their stance. The prosecutors, feel as if this would create a huge amount of cases; this is because under the law, any self-defense claim, will be able to ask for immunity hearings. They believe that this process could lead to an increase of court cost, and delay trials. However the possible delay in trials, makes this revision attractive to defense attorneys. The beauty of this new system is it can also save a lot of court cost. If an accused assailant is found not guilty by reasons of self-defense, the immunity would be granted no trial would be necessary; if it is not granted, the defense can still use the law during trial. The biggest fear is with this new revision, the state will have large increase in the use of the defense. The possibility of getting all charges dropped before a trial sounds appealing. But in order to gain that immunity there must be hardcore evidence. This law could prevent a lot of bad people from walking free. It could also help end a lot of the gun violence burdening the state. One of the most recent cases, the “popcorn shooter” Curtis Reeves Jr., who killed a man inside a Tampa theater, invoked the stand your ground law as his defense and is now awaiting trial. Cases like these are spiking up way to often and are the sole reason many senators voted yes for the revision.
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