Friday, September 18, 2015

Florida | Stand-Your-Ground | Self-Defense Immunity

Florida | Stand-Your-Ground | Self-Defense Immunity
(September 15, 2015)
: Florida State Representative Dennis Braxley, often referred to as the father of the state’s Stand-Your-Ground law, filed a bill HB 169 that would profoundly alter the effects of Florida’s self-defense immunity law, reports the Orlando Sentinel. (The bill is embedded at the bottom of this post.) As this is only proposed legislation at this point I would normally let it go given my workload, but I’m already seeing so much misinformation about this bill being spread thick over the internet that I feel obliged to set a reality stake in place. First, “Stand-Your-Ground” ≠ Self-Defense Immunity Before we even begin, please note that “Stand-Your-Ground” and self-defense immunity are two entirely different legal concepts, and conflating the two merely demonstrates an ignorance of the law.
 “Stand-Your-Ground” has to do with whether a defender has a legal duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, period. Self-defense immunity has to do with whether a defendant can qualify as immune from prosecution, regardless of whether retreat is an issue in the case. Two. Different. Legal. Concepts.
I have no legal training, and although I understand that this is a quantum-change in the "Self-Defense" standpoint of legal jurisprudence, I am (perhaps naively) still convinced that the burden of proof is on the prosecution.  Whatever makes it more difficult to convict an innocent man is not a motion counter to that basic legal concept.

I further believe that it is better that 10 men not be convicted when they are guilty, than that one man be convicted when he is innocent.

That being said, it seems to me that adding to the 'burden of proof" on the part of the prosecution can only lead to the vindication of the innocent more than the escape of the guilty .. although the guilty my certainly take advantage of this legal shift.  Oh, and they will, certainly!

If you're not confused by this argument, I strongly suggest that you retreat to the original article to discover the nuances involved.  Yes, they do suggest that the guilty will take advantage of the added "lee-way" and get off when they might otherwise be convicted under previous rules of jurisprudence.

The nice think about 'jurisprudence" it the "prudence" part.  Often people get so wrapped up in convicting those who have been arrested (under the "Where there is smoke, there is fire" prejudice, the often forget that [a] just  because someone has been charged, that doesn't necessarily mean he is guilty, and [b] the business of prosecutors it to acquire a conviction, and their techniques are not always squeaky clean.

(Neither are defense attorneys, but their legal obligations are not the same as those of prosecutors.)

Having been a collateral "victim" of murder, when my wife was killed in my home 20 years ago, I claim the right to take the 'moral' high ground on this issue.  Yes, the assailant killed both my wife and her mother in my home, and nobody had the common decency to hang the brat. I still regret that he lives, and his victims do not. But he got a fair trial and a decent defense, and only got 65 years in the state penitentiary for multiple premeditated murders (he killed her mother, too, who was present in the house and a witness).

I'm much more worried about the folks who are forced to kill a violent intruder, than I am about the welfare of the intruders.


Anonymous said...

Every man should be allowed to kill his snakes.

Archer said...

I don't see a problem with this bill. It raises the prosecution's burden of proof during the self-defense immunity hearing, which in Florida is a pre-trial hearing before the judge (no jury).

If the defendant would lose before the jury, he (or she) would lose this hearing, as well (assuming there's sufficient cause to grant such a hearing); the burden of proof (prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt) is the same as the trial. However, if the defendant would prevail before the jury, this hearing may prevent him/her from having to take it before the jury, thus saving his/her time and legal defense cost.

Criminals claim self-defense all the time. It rarely works (despite the media-promoted meme of "Stand Your Ground is a license to kill"), for obvious reasons; the evidence clearly shows guilt. This bill will not change that.