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    Florida Effort to Change Burden on Self-Defense Immunity Fails

    Florida Effort to Change Burden on Self-Defense Immunity Fails

    Burden to remain on accused to prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence

    A couple of months ago we posted here about the effort of Florida legislator Dennis Braxley to change Florida’s self-defense immunity law: Major Change Proposed for Florida Self-defense Immunity Law.  

    Under the proposed change a person claiming self-defense immunity for their use of force against another could be denied that immunity only if the prosecution could disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. That effort has now failed, reports the Bradenton Herald.

    Current Florida law will remain in effect, requiring that a person claiming self-defense immunity bear the burden of proving self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence. That legal standard had been applied by the courts for several years, and then was explicitly affirmed by the Florida Supreme Court in a 5-2 decision this past July. That decision, Bretherick v. State, 170 So. 3d 766 (FL Supreme Court 2015), is embedded below.

    All of the procedures around the actual implementation of Florida’s self-defense immunity statute have necessarily been created by the courts, because the statute itself failed to set forth any such procedures.

    It was in response to Bretherick that state representative Braxley, who also played a key role in the initial passage of self-defense immunity, put forward the bill to require that the burden of persuasion, beyond a reasonable doubt, be placed on the prosecution, rather than on the accused.

    The Bradenton Herald report linked above describes in some detail the political maneuvering employed by mostly Democratic pols to kill Braxley’s changes.

    Here’s the Bretherick decision:

    –-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    Attorney Andrew Branca and his firm Law of Self Defense have been providing internationally-recognized expertise in American self-defense law for almost 20 years in the form of blogging, books, live seminars & online training (both accredited for CLE), public speaking engagements, and individualized legal consultation.
    “Law of Self Defense, 2nd Ed.” /Seminars / Instructors Course / Seminar Slides / Twitter / Facebook / Youtube


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    Gremlin1974 | November 18, 2015 at 2:39 am

    I think this is probably the best outcome.

    tphillip | November 18, 2015 at 6:05 am

    I’m of two minds.

    On one side if you’re going to make the claim of self defense IMO it should be on the defendant to prove his case. Think of the phrase ” If you’re going to make a claim it’s on you to support it”.

    On the flip side the Prosecution has enormous resources it can bring to bear on any defendant, and if the prosecutor is unscrupulous, unethical, criminal, or just want to make an example out of you there’s very little you can do about it if you don’t have a ton of cash lying around ready to buy you the best defense you can get.

    Maybe I wouldn’t be wondering if shifting the burden of proving self defense from the defendant to the prosecutor makes sense if we didn’t see case after case of law enforcement officers (Cops, prosecutors, and judges) abusing their authority and screwing people over.

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