Florida has a law called stand your ground that allows a person to use deadly force if their life is at risk or there is a threat of bodily harm. There have been two cases in Florida that have used Stand Your Ground and one was the infamous Zimmerman case and another was the trail of a retired Florida cop who shot a moviegoer for using their cell phone.

Prove it

Yesterday, the House of Representatives in Florida passed a bill that changed how the stand your ground law will be enacted in a criminal trial. With the case of Curtis Reeves, the retired cop who recently used stand your ground, the Burden Of Proof for self-defense was put on him.

However, he was found guilty for the crime of shooting the moviegoer and that his claim of stand your ground did not have enough evidence.

The changes to the law state that if a criminal case were to go to trial when a defendant claims self-defense the prosecutor would have to find evidence that the self-defense can be proven. If self-defense is not proven in trial, then the person is moved to a sentence of first-degree manslaughter or first-degree murder. The person who is accused of violence would not have to prove self-defense was used when the changes to the bill are passed on from the Senate.

Last month, the Florida Senate did pass a bill that was similar to the phone that passed in the Florida House of Representatives, however the language must be agreed upon by both houses of Florida’s Congress.

HB 245 & SB 128

“We’re talking about people’s lives,” Attorney Richard Escobar told Tampa Bay Times. Escobar was Curtis Reeve’s attorney in the criminal case against him, “As far as I’m concerned, if it’s not much of a burden for the prosecution to prove it wasn’t self-defense, it wasn’t.”

House Bill 245 (HB 245) requires the prosecution to prove by ‘clear and convincing evidence’ that the person claiming self-defense in a criminal trial did not willingly do so.

The corresponding senate bill 128 (SB 128) claims that the evidence provided by the prosecutor must go ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that the claim of self-defense in a criminal trial was not used to the proper degree.

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren stated to the Tampa Bay Times that the change in burden of proof could mean more people claim self-defense and then the prosecutors would have to disprove the legal defense before the trial ever begins, which means a lot more homework for trials claiming stand your ground.