What’s Going On With Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law?
Following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, there was a push to repeal Florida’s “stand your ground” law. However, it is still in place, and is one of the strongest such laws in the country.
What does “stand your ground” really mean?
Under Florida’s stand your ground statute, you have no duty to retreat and may therefore “stand your ground” and fight back when threatened with non-deadly or deadly force. In order to invoke the law, you must reasonably believe that it is necessary for you to defend yourself against an imminent use of unlawful force.
If you use deadly force, meaning you risk killing the person attacking you, you must reasonably believe that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to yourself or another, or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.
If you wish to invoke the stand your ground law, you must make a “prima facie” or basic showing that the law applies in your case. The burden then shifts to the state to prove that you were not justified in your use of force.
The experience that speaks for itself.
Attorney Antonio Valiente has represented numerous defendants who have invoked the stand your ground law after being charged with a weapons crime, most notably, Gabriel Mobley.
After he and his friend were attacked, Mobley defended himself and his friend by firing at the attackers. The result was the death of both attackers, Jesus Gonzalez and Rolando Carrazana in February 2008 outside a Miami area Chili’s. Gonzalez and Carranza had gotten into an argument with Mobley’s friends inside the restaurant, but nothing came of it. However, Gonzalez and Carrazana later attacked Mobley and his friend in the parking lot.
Mobley saw Carranza reach under his shirt as if to grab a weapon, so he pulled out his own weapon and fired on both attackers. Both men died, and it turned out neither of the men had a gun.
Mobley was charged with murder, and the trial court judge refused to dismiss his case under the stand your ground law. Attorney Valiente appealed that decision, and the appeals court ruled that the charges should be dropped because Mobley was covered by the stand your ground law.
Mobley’s case is an important example of two things. First, as this case made clear, judges are authorized to dismiss charges if the defendant can mount a successful stand your ground defense. This is good because it could mean your case is decided quickly, and your name cleared without all the risks associated with a jury trial.
Second, because the shooting occurred outside of a Chili’s restaurant, the case is a good reminder of the fact that the law allows you to stand your ground wherever you have a legal right to be. Many people think the law only applies to houses, however it applies everywhere in Florida. If you are in a restaurant parking lot, you can stand your ground. If you are driving down the highway, you have the right to stand your ground. Your rights don’t end when you leave your home.
The civil side of things.
Though Attorney Valiente is a criminal defense attorney, he also thinks it is important to note that the stand your ground law has a civil element to it as well. If the court dismisses a criminal case against you after you have invoked the stand your ground law, you also get immunity from any civil lawsuits.
If you have any questions about the stand your ground law, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Valiente.
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