HB 169 NOTE 2: STAFF REPORT PAGE 2


At page 2, the staff report says [footnotes omitted]:
 
Florida  Section 776.032, F.S., provides immunity from criminal prosecution and civil suits against a person who uses or threatens to use justified force to defend himself or herself, other people, or property, pursuant to ss. 776.012,2 776.013, or 776.031, F.S. This statute, commonly referred to as the Stand Your Ground Law Since its enactment, Florida courts have examined the available procedures for determining which cases are entitled to Stand Your Ground immunity.

The Florida Supreme Court recently established the procedure for asserting a claim of immunity from criminal prosecution under Stand Your Ground. A majority of the Court determined that the defendant bears the burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, to demonstrate that he or she is entitled to immunity at a pretrial evidentiary hearing. Should the trial court rule against the defendant at the hearing, the case will proceed to trial, where the prosecutor bears the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime with which he or she was charged.

In reaching this conclusion, the Court reasoned that this procedure was appropriate because: Stand Your Ground immunity is not blanket immunity from prosecution, but rather, only intended for those who use justified force; no court in the country has required the prosecution to disprove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force by a defendant was justified; placing the burden of proof on the defendant is consistent with how other types of motions to dismiss are handled; and placing the burden on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is not entitled to immunity requires the state to establish the same degree of proof twice, which “would essentially result in two full-blown trials: one before the trial judge and then another before the jury.” [citing Bretherick v. State, 170 So.3d 766, 775-77 (Fla. 2015)].