Florida Third District Court of Appeal – Criminal Headnotes – February 7, 2018
OMAR RODRIGUEZ V. STATE OF FLORIDA – “STAND YOUR GROUND” IMMUNITY HEARING; BURDEN OF PROOF; CONSTITUTIONALITY OF 2017 AMENDMENT
Petition for writ of prohibition to prevent trial court from conducting “stand your ground” immunity hearing using the procedure outlined in Bretherick v. State, 170 So. 3d 766 (Fla. 2015), rather than that specified in a 2017 amendment to section 776.032 of the Florida statutes.
Dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
In Bretherick, the Florida Supreme Court determined the burden was on the defendant to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that his use of force was justifiable under the circumstances, rather than on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not. In 2017, the legislature added subparagraph (4) to the statute, shifting the burden to the state, once the defendant has raised “a prima facie claim” of self-defense immunity, to overcome the claim by “clear and convincing evidence.”
The trial court ruled the 2017 enactment violated the separation of legislative and judicial powers under Article V, section 2(a) of the Florida constitution by intervening in a procedural matter without the necessary two-thirds majority of each house of the legislature.
The appeals court determined the trial court had acted within its jurisdiction, and that at least until after the immunity hearing was actually concluded, there was no basis on which it could properly intervene.
ALEX GUTIERREZ V. STATE OF FLORIDA – ILLEGAL SENTENCE; HABITUAL VIOLENT FELONY OFFENDER; HEGGS
Appeal from denial of motion to correct illegal sentence.
The defendant argued his sentencing as an habitual violent felony offender was improper in light of Heggs v. State, 759 So. 2d 620 (Fla. 2000), which invalidated the 1995 enactment of sentencing guidelines as violating the “single subject” rule of Article III, section 6 of the Florida constitution.
The appeals court noted that section 775.084(4)(e) of the Florida statutes, which deals with the sentencing of habitual violent felony offenders, was not at issue in Heggs.