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Proposal to Shift Burden of Proof in Stand Your Ground Cases Potential Reality in 2016

December 4, 2015 - 7:00pm

A new bill which would change the burden of proof in Stand Your Ground cases is headed to the Senate floor after a rocky start in the Florida House -- meaning the bill still may see the light of day come the 2016 regular legislative session.

This week, SB 344,  sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, would shift the “burden of proof” for Stand Your Ground cases, giving defendants more protection from prosecution by requiring prosecutors to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” whether a defendant is entitled to immunity at a pretrial hearing in order to disprove a claim of self-defense immunity.

Sen. Bradley introduced the bill after a recent ruling from the Florida Supreme Court this summer which said defendants would be responsible for the burden of proof showing they shouldn’t be prosecuted in Stand Your Ground cases.

The proposal passed through the Senate Rules Committee on Thursday, and will now head to the full Senate floor for a vote.

Despite the legislation making its way through the Senate, its companion legislation, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, didn’t fare as well in the House -- last month, the bill stalled out in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee when it flopped due to a 6-6 tie vote.

The future of the bill seemed dim, but despite many saying it was dead, the proposal received a second life in the Senate.

If a bill dies in a House committee, it’s up to the Senate committee chair whether the companion bill will be heard or not. That route proved fruitful for SB 344, and there’s still a possibility the legislation could be revived in the House and thrown into a package of different bills and ultimately pass, though it would be difficult to reach that point.

Bradley said the Senate would keep the legislation alive, explaining he hoped that chamber would handle the bill in the first or second week of the regular legislative session and then send the bill back to the House to see whether or not House Speaker Steve Crisafulli would take the bill up in that chamber.

The legislation has already gathered significant support from gun groups like the National Rifle Association, which has already said the bill is vital for gun owners who may use their weapons to protect themselves in potentially harmful situations.

“If you own a gun and you ever have to use it to protect yourself or your family and -- you think, because of the Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground law, that the law is on your side, think again,” NRA lobbyist and former president Marion Hammer wrote in an email to members last month. “The Legislature gave you protection in 2005, but prosecutors and the courts have taken it away.”

Bradley’s bill includes several amendments, some of which would require prosecutors to provide convincing evidence that the defendant shouldn’t be immune under the state’s Stand Your Ground law.

Florida’s regular legislative session begins Jan. 12.



How can we feel protected against malicious Prosecution. Prosecutors who make decisions by social groups, skin color, raze or religious pressure is not the way of the law. When the so called "VICTIMS" past actions or life style can't be brought to court, this Country is taking steps toward a real dangerous society, we are slowly loosing our most important and sacred rights and becoming everything this Country DOES NOT STAND FOR. Innocence until proven guilty is a very powerful right against the tyranny of the government and their representatives. Be very careful how you want to live today and how will the future generation inherits because of your action today!

This is insane. How do you prove to such a high standard? A thug breaks into your home at 3:00 AM by coming in a window that was not locked. Bang he's dead. The prosecutor can charge that the defendant let him in to kill him. How can you prove that was not the case? You wife will back you up? Well your wife is not reliable as a witness and so it goes. This bill should be soundly defeated and any Senator supporting it should be challenged in a primary election, first then the general election if not defeated.

What's insane is coming home to find your 12-year old daughter lying on the sidewalk with a bullet hole through her chest, a pocket knife you've never seen in her hand and a 200-pound man standing over her with a smoking 44 magnum claiming Stand Your Ground with no witnesses, no video and a new legal standard that basically requires prosecutors to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the claim is invalid BEFORE even standing trial . . . . . . . . . insanity . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

First step in low information, right wing establishment of a "vigilante" culture. Like Dodge City - in the 1800's...

San Bernardino, California Terrorists along with home invaders and YOU along with the Left dumbocraps don't want American citizens to protect themselves! If you want gun free zones move to countries where citizens are not allowed to protect themselves and their families.

Yes, yes . . . everyone at a Holiday party must be able to open carry their own AR-15 to feel safe . . . . . only rightwing answer . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

SB344: Senators who support this bill should be "tarred & feathered", "pulled off the government mammary" and "run out of office"... and probably will be as common sense and reason continues to take hold in our Republic...

What side are these lunatics on? the side of evil criminals or the side of honest citizens? There was nothing wrong with the bill as it was written. We shall see how this vote goes and vote accordingly.

By then the damage is done.. contact your reps and tell them we need SYG .

How strange that it's got new life on the Senate since the Florida House is much more conservative. I have read the bill, but I think Stand Your Ground is geared to the defender already, is it not?

The problem is not the legislation itself, it's how it is applied to each case. Currently, the burden of establishing justification under the law rests with the defendant to prove by the greater weight of the evidence (preponderance) that the application of force is justified. In hearings on these matters, courts almost always find that the defendant did not sufficiently prove the justification so the motion to dismiss is almost always denied. This means the law really does not protect the class of citizens it is designed to protect. The burden should rightfully be shifted to the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified at least in criminal prosecutions. In civil cases, it should be the plaintiff's burden to prove the same only by a lesser standard.

"since the Florida House is much more conservative."..... 2 RINO's at the insistence of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee chair, were not in the room to vote, when it flopped due to a 6-6 tie vote. - It was a total Betrayal ..."Without Latvala and Pilon’s support, the bill’s amendments passed, and when it came time to vote on the bill itself, neither showed back in the room and the vote ended in a tie. "

More people to be killed by this insanity.

You don't have a clue, do you.... Since its passing 7 years ago, SYG has been claimed 134 times in Fatal cases. 75 were found to be Justified, 45 cases were denied Immunity and were found Guilty and 14 Cases are Pending. Stop being such a hoplophobe....

"hoplophobe"-----Jeez "Mikey"; If we were ALL inclined to "make up" words, just imagine how easy "stifling and putting someone down" would be? (Not to mention that we would ALL probably then be fearful liberal Democrats (or "dreaming" LSAT hopeful, pettifoggers bent on "people control"). Sorry "Mikey", you'll have to be a lot smarter to fulfill THAT fantasy ( You would be better off lusting after some nubile, Hollywood starlet; your chances would STILL be "slim to none"...)

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