Senator Rob Bradley filed the legislation today to amend Florida’s infamous “Stand Your Ground” law to clarify that the burden of proof in any self-defense shooting still lies with the government, not the accused. But given the makeup of several key committees, including Criminal Justice and Judiciary, the bill may have a tough time passing. To become law, it will also need to pass the Florida House and be signed by the governor. Similar legislation died in the Florida House of Representatives last year.
“The government has the burden of proof in a criminal case from the beginning of a case until the end,” Bradley said in an emailed press release. “This fundamental premise is guaranteed in our Constitution and understood intuitively by all Floridians.”
The Florida Supreme Court had previously ruled In Bretherick v. State, that the defendant has the burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence at the pretrial evidentiary hearing, that he or she is entitled to immunity from prosecution.
Bradely believes that flips the Constitution’s burden of proof standard on its head.
Here’s the full release from Senator Bradley:
Senator Bradley Files Legislation to Protect Right to Self Defense
Tallahassee–Senator Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) today filed legislation protecting the right of self-defense for all Floridians. Senate Bill 128 corrects a misinterpretation of the “Stand Your Ground” law by the Florida Supreme Court in the 2015 Bretherick vs. State decision.
“The government has the burden of proof in a criminal case from the beginning of a case until the end,” said Senator Bradley. “This fundamental premise is guaranteed in our Constitution and understood intuitively by all Floridians.”
The legislation clarifies that the government, not the accused, has the burden of proof in a “Stand Your Ground” immunity hearing. In a 5-2 decision, the Florida Supreme Court ruled otherwise.
“We have an obligation to zealously guard the protections granted us all in the Constitution,” continued Senator Bradley. “It was uplifting last session to have the support of fellow conservatives around the state on this important issue.”
Senator Bradley sponsored the same legislation, Senate Bill 344 (2016) last session, and it passed the Florida Senate. The bill died in committee in the Florida House.