Self-Defense Immunity Under the Stand Your Ground Law Must Be Properly Raised
People always ask about self-defense because everyone can envision a scenario where they’d need to defend themselves. Until October 1, 2005, people in Florida had a duty to retreat; however, the law allows you to Stand Your Ground. The Stand Your Ground law created confusion because it didn’t address the new procedure. The courts sorted things out as defendants filed motions to dismiss. State v. Moore shines light on one of the procedural issues that the statute considered.
The State of Florida charges Gary Moore with Second Degree Murder alleging that he shot and killed Jonathan Stevens. Moore files a motion to dismiss asserting statutory immunity because he acted in self-defense. The State of Florida responds with a motion to strike, claiming the defense motion fails to meet its initial burden. The trial judge denies the motion to strike, holds an evidentiary hearing on the motion to dismiss and grants the motion to dismiss. The State of Florida appeals the ruling to the Third District Court of Appeal in Miami.
Stand Your Ground Law
The Appellate Court recounts the Stand Your Ground procedure. First, a defendant must allege sufficient facts to raise a prima facie claim of self-defense immunity pursuant to Florida Statute 776.032(4). Then, at an evidentiary hearing, the burden shifts to the State of Florida to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant lacks immunity.
To determine a prima facie claim of statutory immunity, the Appellate Court looks to the statute. A defendant must show that the elements of the justifiable use of force are met. “A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.” It also considers the Justifiable Use of Force Jury Instruction, which restates the statute.
Stand Your Ground Law Applied to Moore’s Motion
The Court shifts focus to Moore’s motion. The motion doesn’t raise self-defense. The motion doesn’t explain the conflict or justify the shooting. Instead, it attacks the uncertainty in the criminal investigation and questions the prosecution’s evidence against him. It skips to the second stage in the process without addressing the first stage.
Based on the motion alone, the Appellate Court rules against Moore. It finds his motion legally insufficient. The motion ignores the requirement to raise the justifiable use of force. He can’t just attack the evidence against him. The trial court shouldn’t have held a hearing on a legally insufficient motion. Therefore, the Appellate Court reverses the order granting the motion to dismiss.
Read the Moore opinion here!
Talk to An Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney!
Talk to Jared at Brown Legal PLLC about the proper way to raise Self Defense under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law! It’s vital when charged with Murder, Firearm Offenses and Assaults and Batteries of every variety. Jared is an Ivy League educated former prosecutor with over 15 years experience! The criminal defense firm Brown Legal PLLC operates from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but regularly handles cases throughout South Florida and the rest of the state. Jared has represented people as far away as Pensacola and as far south as Key West. Reach out over the phone at (954) 524-6700 or through the Contact Page if you have any questions.
Refusing Consent To Search Phone Can’t Be Used Against You At Trial
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees you the right to remain silent. That means if you’re under arrest, nothing you say in response to police questioning can be used against you. Interestingly, your post-arrest silence can’t be used against you either. So if you say nothing after a question, the prosecutor can’t tell the jury you refused to answer.
But what happens when a person under arrest refuses to give his cellphone password and won’t consent to the search of his phone? Can those refusals be admitted into evidence? The Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach, Florida answers that question in McRoberts v. State.
After arresting McRoberts for sex offenses, police ask him for his phone pin. They also seek permission to search his phone. Without a warrant, the police need permission to search. McRoberts refuses both requests.
McRoberts files a motion to keep this evidence from the jury, but the judge lets both refusals in. At trial, the prosecutor comments strongly on the refusals and the jury convicts McRoberts. On appeal, the Fourth District reverses his convictions for the following reasons.
The Fifth Amendment protects you from sharing your phone password. Similarly, the Fourth Amendment protects you from warrantless searches. Therefore, the prosecutor should not have introduced the refusals into evidence. To maintain the conviction, the State of Florida must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the errors did not contribute to the verdict. Because the State fails to meet its burden, the Court reverses the convictions and remands for a new trial.
Read the McRoberts opinion here!
Talk to An Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney!
Talk to Jared at Brown Legal PLLC about refusing to consent to cellphone searches! He’s an Ivy League educated former prosecutor with over 15 years experience! The criminal defense firm Brown Legal PLLC operates from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but regularly handles cases throughout South Florida and the rest of the state. He’s represented people as far away as Pensacola and as far south as Key West. Reach out over the phone at (954) 524-6700 or through the Contact Page if you have any questions.
What Types Of Criminal Defense Cases Are Our Specialty?
If you or a loved one is in need of a criminal defense attorney, Brown Legal can help. We have been working in the criminal justice system for more than ten years and have the experience needed to build you a solid defense.
The team at Brown Legal PLLC handles State and Federal Felonies and Misdemeanors, including but not limited to:
- Drug Trafficking Offenses
- White Collar Crime
- Traffic Fatalities and Driving Related Deaths
- Firearm Offenses
- Violent Crimes
- Property Crimes
- Domestic Violence
- Restraining Orders
- Driver’s License
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Child Abuse and Neglect
- Violations of Probation and Community Control
- Sealing and Expunging
Brown Legal PLLC can work quickly to investigate the facts, prepare your defense and facilitate your release from custody. Call us today to get started.
How We Build The Best Defense For Our Clients
A good defense often begins prior to arrest. State and Federal law enforcement build cases by interviewing witnesses, subpoenaing records and gathering evidence prior to making contact with their targets. Brown Legal PLLC can work quickly to investigate the facts, prepare your defense and facilitate your release from custody.
Before speaking with anyone about the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, make sure you contact Brown Legal PLLC.
When you or someone you know is arrested for a crime, there’s no time to wait. Every moment spent without a lawyer increases both the chances of the police obtaining a confession and the disappearance of evidence assisting in your defense.
Expediency matters because the gravity of a criminal conviction is life altering. It can affect your job, your livelihood and your constitutional rights, amongst other things. Nothing should stand in your way from obtaining the finest counsel in your defense.
A good defense often begins prior to arrest. State and Federal law enforcement build cases by interviewing witnesses, subpoenaing records and gathering evidence prior to making contact with their targets. Before speaking with anyone about the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, make sure you contact Brown Legal PLLC.