The Florida Supreme Court struck down a controversial update to the state’s Stand Your Ground law, which allows defendants that shoot and kill someone in self-defense to be proven innocent.
Killers Could Get Away with Murder
The revamped version of the law, which the NRA strongly backed this spring, would ask the prosecution to bring evidence that someone was not in self-defense. Under the old law, it was the defense’s job to prove self-defense. Activists are worried that many defendants might cite self-defense under the new law and get away with murder.
Florida’s top court ruled Monday that the new addition to the law which may be called Stand Your Ground on Steroids is unconstitutional. Justices believe it could represent a slippery slope that could increase murder rates of innocent people since killers could so easily evade justice.
Other critics of the law believe the new law took away power from investigators and other law enforcement agents in deciding which cases to bring to justice.
A Controversial Update
The update was heavily lobbied by the NRA, passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed off by Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott. Florida is the promoter of Stand Your Ground laws in other states. Under this type of law, someone who “reasonably believes” that they acted in self-defense because their life or physical integrity was in danger has a right to gun down a person that they perceived as a threat.
The law is based on a controversial legal theory – the Castle Doctrine – which allows gun owners to defend their property, family, and themselves in their own home even with lethal force. The law sparked a huge scandal after the killer of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old African-American boy who was unarmed at the time of the shooting, was set free since he stated he acted in self-defense.
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