According to Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Seymour Hirsch, the latest iteration of Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground is unconstitutional. Specifically, the Judge's Order found fault with the legislature's recent modifications to the statute which forced prosecutors to affirmatively disprove a defendant's self-defense claim in a pre-trial hearing. The judge ruled that the change was procedural (and not substantive) and thus, any such procedural changes should have been created by the Florida Supreme Court and not the legislature. According to Hirsch, the newest modifications altered the burden of proof in such a manner that it was violative of the Florida Constitution's "separation of powers" doctrine.
Former prosecutor and Senator Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) disagreed with Judge Hirsch's decision and indicated he felt that the legislature had acted lawfully and constitutionally. "I would be surprised if this decision was upheld at the appellate level." he said.
Florida's Stand Your Ground Law has been controversial since its inception in 2005. The law's fierce critics contend that it fosters a "shoot-first" or "vigilante" mentality. Generally, the law negated a victim's "duty to retreat" if encountering a deadly threat. More importantly from a prosecutor's standpoint, the law made it easier for a judge to dismiss violent charges in pre-trial hearings if they held that an individual had acted in self-defense. Judge Hirsch's ruling is non-binding, meaning that other Florida trial courts are free to continue to follow the law if they see fit. However, the decision will ultimately invite appellate scrutiny.
Have you or a loved one been charged with a crime in Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach, or anywhere in South Florida? Don't face this extremely stressful situation alone. Seek the best criminal defense attorney you can find! Our experienced South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers are just a phone call away to discuss your situation in a free consultation. Give us a call today toll-free at 844-380-4878.