Burden to remain on accused to prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence
A couple of months ago we posted here about the effort of Florida legislator Dennis Braxley to change Florida’s self-defense immunity law: Major Change Proposed for Florida Self-defense Immunity Law.
Under the proposed change a person claiming self-defense immunity for their use of force against another could be denied that immunity only if the prosecution could disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. That effort has now failed, reports the Bradenton Herald.
Current Florida law will remain in effect, requiring that a person claiming self-defense immunity bear the burden of proving self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence. That legal standard had been applied by the courts for several years, and then was explicitly affirmed by the Florida Supreme Court in a 5-2 decision this past July. That decision, Bretherick v. State, 170 So. 3d 766 (FL Supreme Court 2015), is embedded below.
All of the procedures around the actual implementation of Florida’s self-defense immunity statute have necessarily been created by the courts, because the statute itself failed to set forth any such procedures.
It was in response to Bretherick that state representative Braxley, who also played a key role in the initial passage of self-defense immunity, put forward the bill to require that the burden of persuasion, beyond a reasonable doubt, be placed on the prosecution, rather than on the accused.
The Bradenton Herald report linked above describes in some detail the political maneuvering employed by mostly Democratic pols to kill Braxley’s changes.
Here’s the Bretherick decision:
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