Proposed changes to Florida's Stand Your Ground law again divide Legislature, attorneys
An effort by conservative Republican lawmakers to revise Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is back under consideration with a viable chance at passing this year, even as opponents again warn that enacting such changes would “water down” Florida’s gun laws and make it easier for people to kill without consequence.
For the second year in a row, Fleming Island Republican Sen. Rob Bradley is proposing to alter the legal procedure for how a criminal defendant seeks immunity from prosecution under Florida’s controversial 2005 law.
Stand Your Ground allows individuals to use deadly force in self-defense — with no obligation to retreat or flee. Current practice, supported by the Florida Supreme Court, requires defendants to prove before trial why they’re entitled to such immunity.
But Bradley’s proposal (SB 128) would shift the burden of proof at that pre-trial hearing so instead, the prosecutor would need to prove before trial “beyond a reasonable doubt” why a defendant couldn’t claim they lawfully stood their ground.
There’s no public outcry for the change; it’s driven out of principle, Bradley told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday at his bill’s first vetting of the 2017 session.