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self defense

Legislative fix to ‘Stand Your Ground’ law goes to Rick Scott

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Senate blinked in a fight over a standard of evidence, sending a fix to the state’s “stand your ground” law to Gov. Rick Scott.

The House on Friday voted to “insist” that the Senate accept its amendment to Sen. Rob Bradley‘s bill (SB 128), which aims to streamline claims of self-defense.

Last month, it OK’d the bill but changed the burden of proof to “clear and convincing evidence,” a lower threshold than the Senate’s “beyond a reasonable doubt,” to overcome self-defense.

By Friday evening, the Senate finally accepted the change on a 22-14 vote.

Bill proponents want the burden to be on “the party seeking to overcome the immunity from criminal prosecution,” usually prosecutors, requiring a separate mini-trial, of sorts.

In legal terms, clear and convincing evidence is a “medium level of burden of proof,” according to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School.

“In order to meet the standard and prove something by clear and convincing evidence, a party must prove that it is substantially more likely than not that it is true,” it says. “This standard is employed in both civil and criminal trials.”

The Republican majority in the Legislature wants to shift the burden to prosecutors, making them disprove a claim of self-defense. A state Supreme Court decision had put the onus on the defendant to show self-defense.

Democrats have inveighed against the measure, saying it would encourage bad actors to injure, even kill, and then claim self-defense.

The stand your ground law, enacted in 2005, allows people who are attacked to counter deadly force with deadly force in self-defense without any requirement that they flee.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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