Dennis Baxley: Why I want to change Florida's 'stand your ground' law
Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who championed Florida’s “stand your ground” law, is the sponsor of HB 169, which would change the law to require prosecutors to prove a defendant did not act in lawful self-defense instead of requiring the defendant to prove that he or she did act in self-defense and should not be prosecuted. He wrote this column explaining his legislation, which gets a hearing today in Tallahassee. Here's an excerpt:
When the Florida Legislature passed the "stand your ground'' law, we codified in statute the substantive right of immunity for persons to defend themselves from attack without fear of prosecution.
The right of self-defense is legal doctrine that has roots in the Bible and spans English common law for centuries. It is a cornerstone of the foundation of our judicial system.
The Legislature's clear and unequivocal intent was to protect innocent people by granting immunity from arrest, detention and prosecution to a person who acts in self-defense.
However, the courts have now usurped the law passed by the Legislature by creating a pretrial immunity hearing, at which the defendant bears the burden of proving by preponderance of evidence that he or she acted in self-defense. Placing the burden of proof on the citizen directly contradicts the Legislature's clear intent to give greater protection to citizens who lawfully act in self-defense by granting them total immunity from prosecution.