Have you or somebody you know been accused of domestic battery? If so, Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law will inevitably come up as a potential strategy. If it hasn’t, it should. The Stand Your Ground law means the court can declare you immune from prosecution due to your lawful use of self-defense. Such a declaration would cause the charges to be dismissed.
Over the past few years, the law has been changed and has become complex and hard to understand. Basically, a person is justified in using or threatening to use force against another when the person “reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force” Fla. Stat. 776.012.
One recent change in the law benefits those who acted in justifiable self-defense. Typically, there used to be a downside to filing a Stand Your Ground motion. The defense would have to make a showing by either having a defense witness or the accused put testimony on the record, which opens him or her up to cross examination by the prosecutor. Doing this used to ‘shift’ the burden of proof to the government to show the belief was not reasonable, the force was not necessary, or the other’s force was either not imminent or was lawful to begin with.
On March 10th, 2021, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled in State v. Cassaday (No. 4D20-816) the only thing required to force the government to call witnesses and prove your self-defense was unlawful is for the defense to simply file a motion asserting facts, which if taken as truth, would support a facially valid claim of self-defense under the Stand Your Ground laws. In other words, the accused must raise the claim, and the government has to disprove it. The accused does not have to prove or disprove anything – exactly how our criminal justice system should work.
With little to no downside to the filing of a Stand Your Ground motion to declare you immune from prosecution for the justified use of self-defense, the best defense is to go on offense and file one. Contact me right away at 561.425.6250 for a free consultation to learn if your case is potentially a Stand Your Ground case.