House amends Senate’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ bill

stand your ground self defense

The House on Tuesday began consideration of a Senate bill changing the state’s “stand your ground” law to make it easier to claim self-defense.

But the House soon amended the measure (SB 128) to change the burden of proof to overcome self-defense to “clear and convincing evidence,” a lower threshold than the Senate’s “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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

House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz asked Rep. Bobby Payne, a Palatka Republican who’s sponsoring the House version, whether he knew that prosecutors have said that would cost them an extra $8 million a year.

“I think that is a far-reaching estimate,” he said.

Other Democrats continued to be skeptical, at best.

“Would this allow (people) to get away with a crime they would otherwise be prosecuted for?” asked state Rep. Robert Asencio, a Miami-Dade Democrat.

“I don’t believe so,” Payne said. “But those who are truly protecting themselves, and their loved one, should be protected. People should be considered innocent until proven guilty.”

Rep. Jamie Grant, a Tampa Republican, later asked Payne, “Would you agree that your bill is trying to help someone who might be wrongfully arrested, while not making it any easier or having no impact on someone who committed murder and is trying to use a tool that was intended to create more due process for a defendant?”

“Yes, I would agree,” Payne said.

Specifically, the Senate bill—first passed March 15 on a 23-15 vote—would make prosecutors show “that a defendant is not immune from prosecution.” It was sponsored by Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley, an attorney.

It’s in reaction to a state Supreme Court decision that put the onus on the defendant to show self-defense under the stand your ground law, passed in 2005.

The bill, if passed in the House later this week, would have to go back to the Senate.


Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Ron Clark

    April 5, 2017 at 12:50 am

    With all the criminal violence in Fla. the law’s should be made to protect the victim’s. It’s the victims that are being thrown under the legal bus. We should have open carry and it should be made law to help reduce the out of control crime we are experiencing in Florida and the nation for that matter . Every citizen has the right to constitutional carry be it open or concealed . It is the left(socialist) who are more concerned with protecting the criminal element of our society than the citizenry.

  • Janis Lentz

    April 5, 2017 at 9:53 am

    It’s a fact that crime is DOWN nationally, and that includes Florida! Don’t repeat the false claims Trump spouted during the campaign; let Politifact check your statement out, and call it what it is–pants on fire! The stand your ground law, gleefully signed into law by Jeb Bush, is a terrible law and should be repealed! In its entirety. It has given cover to hundreds of cold-blooded murderers and allowed them to walk away, Scot-free! It is a bastardization of the “castle” concept, that a person is entitled to defend themselves in their HOME–not ever intended to apply out on the street! The FL legislature has made themselves whores for the NRA, these sleazebags actually write these terrible gun laws, and the obedient legislators in Tally pass them! They continue to introduce several equally bad and outrageous bills every session. Remember Ninny Brown-Waite’s insane “take your guns to school” proposal? This has been going on for 20 years, and Floridians are sick and tired of this outlaw mentality. There are far too many handguns in Florida, a large percentage of them owned by folks who don’t need them and don’t know how to safely USE them! It is a tourism killer, as stories are published all over the country about these insane “gun show”, “concealed carry” “guns in schools” etc. proposals that absolutely defy plain common sense and safety rules that other states have no problem abiding by! The fact is, the more GUNS that are owned in this state, the more tragic shootings and killings will occur! Stop proposing these terrible bills, and stop pandering to that damned NRA!

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