Republican lawmakers are revising Florida's "stand your ground" law under consideration of passing this year with some legal changes. Senator Rob Bradley has a proposition to change legal proceedings in how criminal defendants can seek immunity from being prosecuted under the "stand your ground" law.

Getting proof

Currently the law, which has been in place since 2005, allows individuals to use deadly force in self-defense, but they should not have an obligation to retreat or flee from the scene of the crime. The current practice of the law to prove self-defense was used to require defendants to prove on trial why they should be granted immunity and how the law applies to their case.

The change that Sen. Rob Bradley wants to enact to the law would require evidence and proven testimony at the pretrial hearing before the case goes to the courts. Senate Bill 128 states that the prosecutor would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant cannot claim self-defense if there is no evidence to support their claim for immunity. This puts more pressure on the prosecutor to prove there was use of self-defense than the defendant originally claiming the immunity.


Last year the proposed bill was met with some harsh criticism. Prosecutors and opponents of the law state that it could allow more criminals to go unpunished for their crimes and also believe that the bill would enact "double jeopardy" in a criminal case where someone claims self-defense, one at the hearing and one at the trial.

Sen. Rob Bradley was a former criminal prosecutor in Clay and Duval counties here in the state of Florida. He believes the changes could help eliminate people claiming self-defense in certain trials. But state attorney Phil Archer of Brevard and Seminole county is concerned about the number of cases could grow exponentially in the case of claiming self-defense.

The changes to the law could make it easier for defense attorneys to get their clients to walk free. "If you are going to hurt someone, if you are going to kill someone, the least we can require is that at a preliminary hearing you carry the burden of telling us why," Archer said to Tampa Bay Times.

Sen. Rob Bradley's bill passed in the Judiciary Committee with a 5-4 vote in favor by Republicans and is supported by Senate President Joe Negron, which could easily help the bill pass the Senate floor.