Stand Your Ground
Florida was the first state in the nation to pass a stand your ground law in 2005 and many states have subsequently followed its lead, despite the law being one of the most misunderstood criminal defense laws in the media and in public perception. The simplest definition of stand your ground immunity in Florida is that a person can avoid trial in a criminal matter if that person can show at a pre-trial hearing that the force he or she used was in response to a reasonable belief that the person was in fear of injury or, in the case of deadly force, great bodily injury or death. As is evident, there are numerous hurdles that must be crossed in order to successfully raise this immunity defense. Mr. Glassman currently teaches an 8 week class at Florida Atlantic University on stand your ground examining these many hurdles and how the law has changed through cases heard in front of the Florida Supreme Court and the District Courts of Appeal. If you believe that you rightly used self defense in your case, it is vital that you retain an attorney such as Mr. Glassman who has a deep understanding of the nature of stand your ground immunity.
When stand your ground immunity was passed, it was unclear how the law would be put into effect, as the statute does not have any rules of procedure attached to it. For example, the law even states that a police officer may not arrest a person who has raised a valid stand your ground claim, so law enforcement has involved state attorneys earlier in the process to ensure that an accused’s rights are protected. If a person were arrested, it was not clear whether a defendant was entitled to a pre-trial hearing and, if the defendant was entitled to such a hearing, what form that hearing should take. After numerous appellate and Florida Supreme Court cases, the procedure has become somewhat more clear. Additionally, the law has recently changed to the benefit of those claiming Stand Your Ground immunity. Once the accused raises the issue of Stand Your Ground and files a proper Stand Your Ground Motion, the prosecution is forced to call witnesses to prove that the defendant was not standing his or her ground. The prosecution must prove that the defendant was not standing his or her ground by a high legal burden: clear and convincing evidence. If the defendant loses, the defendant may immediately appeal (in what is called an interlocutory appeal) to the District Court to review the trial court’s ruling.
It is important that your hire an attorney apprised of the recent law changes and all the nuances that Stand Your Ground entails. Mr. Glassman has extensive experience conducting stand your ground immunity hearings and has deeply analyzed the statute as part of his teachings on the subject. Mr. Glassman will utilize this experience to present your case to the judge as persuasively as possible.
- Florida Statute 776.012 – Use or Threatened Use of Force in Defense of Person
- Florida Statute 776.013 – Home Protection
- Florida Statute 776.031 – Use or Threatened Use of Force in Defense of Property
- Florida Statute 776.032 – Immunity from Criminal Prosecution and Civil Action
- Self Defense Jury Instructions, Florida Supreme Court
Recent Appellate Cases
- Bretherick v. State, 170 So.3d 766 (Fla. 2015) – The defendant has the burden of proof in raising a stand your ground immunity claim, and that burden is preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
- Ford v. State, 172 So.3d 1003 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015) – A defendant does not have a duty to retreat, unless the defendant is engaged in an unlawful activity. A felon in possession of a firearm does not constitute an “unlawful activity” under the statute, and thus that defendant would not have a duty to retreat.
- Spires v. State, 180 So.3d 1175 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015) – A trial court’s ruling denying stand your ground immunity will not be overturned so long as it is supported by substantial evidence. Defendant’s testimony conflicted with the physical evidence and the testimony of an eye witness, and the trial court is permitted to make the credibility determination against the defendant.
- Changes to Stand Your Ground Law Tabled For Now, Tampa Bay Times
- Sheriff Accused of False Arrest in Stand Your Ground Case, Herald Tribune
- Citing Stand Your Ground Prosecutors Will Not Press Charges in Fatal Shooting, Ocala Star Banner