Although Stand Your Ground laws have been adopted by many states, their application as a defense in a court of law still remains highly controversial. Since its very publicized enactment of the law in 2005, Florida in particular has had many self defense cases that have made headlines due to controversial uses of Stand Your Ground.
As Miami-based attorney Kendall Coffey explains, “People who have been shot in the back have been pronounced, nevertheless, Stand Your Ground cases. Drug dealers in a fatal shootout, they’ve been able to invoke Stand Your Ground. What this law needs to get back to is self defense where it is reasonably necessary and where someone has the burden of avoiding killing someone if they possibly can.”
Criticisms of Stand Your Ground like this one are common, and now, the Florida Supreme Court is addressing the complicated law. According to The Palm Beach Post, “It got little notice, but the Florida Supreme Court this month clamped a big inhibition on the state’s ‘Stand your grand’ law.” On July 9, the Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that defendants who use the legal defense have the burden of proving it should shield them from prosecution.
This very recent Supreme Court ruling suggests that there will be fewer Stand Your Ground cases, and according to Charles Rose, director of Stetson Law’s Center for Excellence in Advocacy, “that’s not done by accident.” He explains that Stand Your Ground cases in Florida “have been messy, they often don’t make sense, and they’re often difficult to apply,” which is why the Supreme Court is intervening now.
As The Palm Beach Post points out, one of the things that makes Stand Your Ground laws especially controversial in Florida and elsewhere is the sense that they weren’t enacted to fix a problem in criminal law, but exist more as a political statement about a person’s right to bear arms. With this in mind, opponents of the law are glad to hear that more burden will be placed on those who choose to invoke it.
Further reading about Stand Your Ground laws in Florida: