Florida’s “stand your ground” law, could soon provide even more protection to people who invoke it. Senate Bill 128 protects the right of self-defense for all Floridians by correcting a misinterpretation of the “Stand Your Ground” law in the 2015 Bretherick vs. State Florida Supreme Court decision.

Florida has been a leader in giving citizens immunity in cases of self-defense. While at least 22 states have similar laws that say, people can use force — even deadly force — to defend themselves from threats, Florida could soon be alone shifting the burden of proof to prosecutors.

This bill is not a novel concept. We have a tradition in our criminal justice system that the burden of proof is with the government from the beginning of the case to the end.

The Senate passed legislation to clarify this critical constitutional issue last year, and I am pleased to see Senator Bradley’s bill advance again this year. If the State of Florida is going to accuse a citizen of committing a crime, the State of Florida should have the burden of proof at each and every part of the proceeding to prove guilt beyond the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.

This is a fundamental American right guaranteed by our Constitution. A defendant always has the presumption of innocence and the state always has a burden of proof. We have an obligation to zealously guard the protections granted us all in the Constitution.

 

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