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Old April 5, 2012, 11:24 AM   #1
2damnold4this
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Florida task force examines Stand Your Ground law

It seems that state senator Chris Smith is setting up a task force to examine Florida's Stand Your Ground law. The governor of Florida is expected to follow with his own task force.

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Given the recently publicity with the Martin Zimmerman case, do you think the law will stand as is or be modified? Should the law be changed or are we overreacting?
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Old April 5, 2012, 11:42 AM   #2
Young.Gun.612
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Complete overreaction. Zimmerman's lawyer even says the law doesn't apply, so there's no reason to even be speaking about it. But this does appear to be the perfect storm for the antis to push for new legislation
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Old April 5, 2012, 11:46 AM   #3
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What's the liberal alternative, "Get On Your Knees And Beg For Your Life" law?
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Old April 5, 2012, 12:12 PM   #4
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Complete overreaction. Zimmerman's lawyer even says the law doesn't apply, so there's no reason to even be speaking about it.
I thought Zimmerman's lawyer later reversed himself and said that they would in fact be asserting an affirmative defense under the SYG law?

In any case, it certainly seems like the SYG law would be applicable, at least if the events happened the way Zimmerman is claiming.
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Old April 5, 2012, 12:24 PM   #5
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A lot of anti gun types think that the burden of proof should be on you or I to prove that we acted in self defence, rather than on the state to prove you did not. This country needs more stand your ground laws.
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Old April 5, 2012, 12:58 PM   #6
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A lot of anti gun types think that the burden of proof should be on you or I to prove that we acted in self defence, rather than on the state to prove you did not. This country needs more stand your ground laws.
Well, you may have acted in self-defense, or you may not have - but if you're claiming self-defense, then you're admitting openly that you *did* shoot the person. At that point, the burden is (rightfully, I believe) upon you to show that the shooting was justified.

Here in Virginia, the way it works is that if you kill someone and admit to it, it's second-degree murder by default, and the shooter doesn't present a defense, the prosecution will win by default - the prosecution doesn't have to prove anything if the shooter admitted to the shooting.

Now, if the prosecutor wants to go for a higher classification (like "first-degree murder"), or the defendant wants to go for a lower classification (like "justified"), then they both present their cases and the trial goes from there.

Long story short - if you want a killing classified as "justified", then it's on you to provide the justification. You can't just kill someone and then say "prove it wasn't justified".
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Old April 5, 2012, 01:07 PM   #7
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You think innocent until proven guilty should be throw out the window?
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Old April 5, 2012, 01:13 PM   #8
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Not at all - but if you've already openly admitted to shooting (possibly killing) someone, then you've already pled guilty to a crime as it's described in the statutes. The only way that the shooting *wouldn't be a crime* is if you can provide a justification.

Yes, it's sort of a "catch-22" in that you have to confess to a crime before you can convince a jury that it wasn't really a crime, but it's not strictly the same as saying that someone is guilty until proven innocent.
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Old April 5, 2012, 02:04 PM   #9
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Does Florida's stand your ground law do more than eliminate the duty to retreat in a public place?
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Old April 5, 2012, 02:27 PM   #10
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Given the circumstances of the Zimmerman matter and the brouhaha it's created, it would be almost inconceivable that Florida law would not come under this sort of scrutiny.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBowTies88
You think innocent until proven guilty should be throw out the window?
"Innocent until proven guilty" refers to the presumption of innocence and burden of proof in criminal litigation (the "Golden Thread of British Justice" as Rumpole of the Bailey puts it). This means that at trial, the prosecution must prove all the element of a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jury concludes that the prosecution has failed to meet that burden, the defendant is entitled to acquittal.

However, this works somewhat differently when the when the defendant is claiming self defense. I'll provide a link below to some posts in which I describe this in greater detail.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottRiqui
...but if you've already openly admitted to shooting (possibly killing) someone, then you've already pled guilty...
Well it's not really a guilty plea. You will still be pleading not guilty; but by claiming that you're not guilty because you were justified you are admitting to all the elements of the crime.

Again, this is described in more detail at the links provided below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2damnold4this
Does Florida's stand your ground law do more than eliminate the duty to retreat in a public place?
Yes.

Self defense and Florida law are more fully described here, and here and here.
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Old April 5, 2012, 02:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Well it's not really a guilty plea. You will still be pleading not guilty; but by claiming that you're not guilty because you were justified you are admitting to all the elements of the crime.
You're absolutely right, and thanks for pointing that out - I should have been more precise in my language. While a formal plea of "guilty" to a charge of second-degree murder isn't officially part of a justification defense, the end result is the same - by asserting justification, you essentially put yourself in a hole and then you have to get yourself out of it by proving justification.

If you don't want to assume any of the burden of proof, then all you have to do is not even admit to the shooting - that places the burden of proof solely on the prosecution. The drawback is that you've given up the chance to claim justification, and all the prosecution has to do is prove that you shot the other person, and they've met the burden for the second-degree murder charge - they don't have to concern themselves with the actual circumstances surrounding the shooting, unless they want to go for a higher degree of murder (such as proving that you were in the middle of committing a felony when you shot the other person in order to support a first-degree murder charge.)
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Old April 5, 2012, 03:06 PM   #12
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AZ's law, as I understand it, provides self defense as a presumptive defense. The prosecutors have to prove that it was not self defense. The Phoenix AZ road rage shooting is a good case study of how the law works. It also is a good study of what not to do when you are involved in a shooting.
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Old April 5, 2012, 04:48 PM   #13
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So the basic differences in Florida's SYG law compared with some other states rules are:

A person who claims self defense is presumed to have feared for his life and it's up to the prosecution to show that a reasonable person would not have been in fear of his life. This applies in both criminal and civil court.

No duty to retreat if the person claiming self defense wasn't the original aggressor.

Am I missing anything?
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Old April 5, 2012, 04:58 PM   #14
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The way I understand Florida's law (and I think this is consistent with Frank Ettin's explanation) is that the law provides an affirmative defense that can be used to excuse what it otherwise an unlawful act: a homicide.

And IF that is a correct understanding, then it seems to me that much (most? all?) of the current furor can be directly attributed to the Sanford Police NOT having arrested George Zimmerman. In making that statement I am not even commenting on whether or not he might have been justified -- that's for a jury to decide. I'm just saying that the police department's claim that they are "prevented" from arresting him by the "stand your ground" law does not square with my understanding of the law.

And I think if he had been arrested, even if he was allowed out on bail, it would have taken the wind out of a lot of sails regarding protests against the law. An arrest would have allowed everyone to see the law working as it was intended to work. What we are seeing instead is a circus.
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Old April 5, 2012, 05:10 PM   #15
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AB,

You do bring up a valid point. The concern I do have though is noted in bold below:

Quote:
776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—

(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.
Without knowing what the investigation has found so far, it would be difficult to say that there is enough ground for an arrest in that the force used was unlawful.

The investigator will have to have what he/she feels are the majority of the facts in hand before any charge is filled, or he/she may risk violating this segment of the law.

Perhaps you, Frank, and others may be able to show where I am wrong on this.

As always have a chipper evening!

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Old April 5, 2012, 05:17 PM   #16
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CA has no SYG law but does have a "last aggressor" justification for using lethal force justifiably in self-defense.

You can start a fight, but if you completely disengage, making clear your intentions and walking away, your opponent is the "last aggressor" if they pursue you, and they have started a new fight. If you then otherwise justifiably use lethal force, that you started the fight in the beginning is not the telling point.

Zimmermann claims to have been disengaging, according to some accounts. If that is true, Martin may be the "last aggressor". I don't know what happened.

Eugene Volokh did an interesting blog on the "duty to retreat" on his site earlier this week. It appears that both the Model Penal Code and how the "duty" has been integrated into common law recognize that retreat is not a viable, or even preferred, action in all circumstances. There is a point at which retreat is an undue loss of a person's liberty, which relieves that person of having to choose or affirmatively try to retreat.
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Old April 5, 2012, 05:45 PM   #17
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IMO the Florida Stand your ground law is defective. I doubt it would stand up to judicial review. I guess we'll see...

The law instructs the police to limit their investigation.
The law absolves the shooter with no judicial review.
The law places police lives above those of any other citizen.

The law seems to set "REASONABLE" as a standard then denies a vehical for deciding what is reasonable, or what's not.

The law effectively denies the police and the courts the option of control of the shooter and his ability to flee the jurisdiction.

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Old April 5, 2012, 06:49 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishing Cabin
You do bring up a valid point. The concern I do have though is noted in bold below:
Good point. I overlooked that. And I guess that does put the burden of proof back on the "authorities."

So ... is that provision a good one, or a bad one? It's clearly a good one if you're the shooter and it's a justified shooting. It's perhaps not quite as good if the shooting is questionable but whatever the police have doesn't quite rise to the level of probable cause.
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Old April 5, 2012, 07:06 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishing_Cabin
...Without knowing what the investigation has found so far, it would be difficult to say that there is enough ground for an arrest in that the force used was unlawful.

....

Perhaps you, Frank, and others may be able to show where I am wrong on this....
I'm afraid that I can't really shed any light on this. In reality no one can. We simply don't know enough about what went on and what is going on.

Reports regarding the Zimmerman matter continue to be sketchy and often contradictory. Every time we start to get into the Zimmerman matter we get hopelessly mired in speculation. So --

Please hear me. We will not discuss the details of the Zimmerman matter.

We have already closed multiple threads that turned into hairballs.
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Old April 5, 2012, 08:01 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ltc444
AZ's law, as I understand it, provides self defense as a presumptive defense. The prosecutors have to prove that it was not self defense....
No. That is not how it works. Here, here and here is a discussion of Arizona law.

The bottom line is that if you are claiming self defense, you still
Quote:
...have the burden of putting on evidence that that you satisfied every element necessary under the legal standard for your conduct to have been justified. You still have the burden of putting on a prima facie case of self defense, i. e., sufficient evidence from which the trier of fact can infer that you satisfied the legal standard for self defense....
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2damnold4this
A person who claims self defense is presumed to have feared for his life and it's up to the prosecution to show that a reasonable person would not have been in fear of his life. ...

Am I missing anything?
I'm afraid that you are missing a very important, key thing.

You don't get a presumption just by saying you were acting in self defense. That is insufficient. You can't just say, "I was defending myself" and thus shift the burden to the prosecution to prove that you weren't. You must still put forth evidence establishing prima facie that all the elements required for justification were satisfied.
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Old April 6, 2012, 09:24 AM   #21
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Quote:
You must still put forth evidence establishing prima facie that all the elements required for justification were satisfied.
Precisely.

We don't have a 'SYG' law per say in State of Ohio but there have been a few cases in which shootings have occurred which resulted in no arrests. I.E. Not to long ago, in Fairfield Co., Ohio, there was a fella lured to a remote area by a couple BG's on the premise of purchasing a piece of heavy equipment(bulldozer I think). The BG's attempted to rob him at gunpoint. He shot one(or both,don't recall). Shooter was thoroughly questioned by sheriff's dept. , no charges filed against him and he was never arrested. IMO,rightfully so.

Why was he never arrested and no charges filed?
According to Ohio law, all the elements required for a justified shooting were clearly satisfied.
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Old April 6, 2012, 06:36 PM   #22
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My opinion is the law will stand and not be repealed. It the typical knee jerk reaction to a situation. From the laws inception as some would like one to believe FLA DID NOT turn into the wild, wild west as some stated it would.
The law was needed as this example shows, before the change in law if you were being car jacked with a weapon involved the state stated if you were a CCW permit holder you had the duty to retreat to avoid the use of deadly force. Everywhere else with the exception of your home the state said you have to retreat from the situation instead of standing your ground.
I truely believe that when the dust settles the law will stand.
As a side note and not meant to be political, the law makers asking and raising cane about the law are Democrats calling for the repeal of the law and the Republican law makers are asking to wait and see the outcome of the event in Sanford, FL.
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Old April 7, 2012, 12:42 PM   #23
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Overreaction without a doubt. People expect the government to do something about everything.
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Old April 7, 2012, 02:26 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy88Fingers
Overreaction without a doubt. People expect the government to do something about everything.
While we might think this is an overreaction, it is a predictable reaction. Our culture has long taken a very dim view of one person intentionally hurting or killing another.

While our laws recognize that under some circumstances it may be justified for one person to intentionally hurt or kill another person, such acts of violence have been, and continue to be, repugnant to most people. Most people will grudgingly accept the necessity to use violence in self defense, but generally only under the clearest and most compelling circumstances.
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Old April 7, 2012, 05:15 PM   #25
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Quote:
Most people will grudgingly accept the necessity to use violence in self defense, but generally only under the clearest and most compelling circumstances.
....and grudgingly accepting or rejecting by people as to the necessity to use violence in self defense should be weighed after all the facts are gathered.

One would like to think that with diligent investigating and today's modern forensics , if a person is guilty of shooting a person and claims SD and it's not, the shooter gets put away. On the other hand, if facts prove it is SD, then no charges pressed.

A couple years ago, in the South end of Cols.,Ohio, we had a group of teenagers(anywhere from 10-15 teens) cruising the parks. They were ,as they put it, "playing a game they called 'knockout". They would randomly choose a victim and make bets before they approached the victim to see if a chosen teen could knock the victim out with one punch.
Most of the victims were middle aged to older males. I believe the oldest victim was in his mid 60's.

This went on about all summer before a group of teens was finally arrested. Prior to the teens hearings, the media showed up at the courthouse and interviewed some of the victims as well as the parents of some of the teens. One parent(term used loosely) actually said on camera that "she didn't feel her son was being treated fairly and that all the kids were doing was playing a game".

At any rate, the judge passed out strict sentences to the teens along with a very stern tongue lashing which entailed not only was it possible to injure or kill someone with one punch but the possibility of someone shooting them in SD.

Course, this same stupid mother that stated "the kids were just playing a game and her son was just being picked on and singled out", left the courtroom talking that same, all to familiar crap...

....Her son was specifically I.D.'ed as a hitter by a victim in the courtroom.

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