On March 17, Florida’s Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted “unanimously” to “write some restrictions” into that state’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
The changes were put forth by senators David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) and Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale).
According to The Florida Current, the changes were prompted by the death of Trayvon Martin, who was shot in self-defense by George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012.
The new restrictions include the four changes, the first three of which will make defending oneself more strenuous while the last will make proving the need for self defense easier:
1. They require police to “issue operating guidelines for neighborhood crime watch organizations, specifically forbidding participants to confront or detain someone they deem suspicious.”
2. They require police “to thoroughly investigate claims of self-defense and denies immunity from prosecution for anyone found to be the aggressor in the incident.”
3. They allow “civil liability for lawsuits by third parties wounded by a person in a self-defense situation.”
4. The restrictions put “the burden of proof on prosecutors to show that a person claiming immunity was not entitled to it.” This reverses a “2010 court ruling [requiring] defendants to prove in pre-trail hearings that they qualified for Stand Your Ground protection.
The bill next goes to the Senate Community Affairs Committee. A bill repealing Stand Your Ground was voted down 11-2 in a House committee last year.
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