Thursday

Florida Bang Bang...

I'm thinking about this Florida Situation, (see my earlier post here)

As I mentioned before, it modifies the law of self-defense extending the 'castle doctrine' to public places. That means that come October 2005, Floridians will be free to blast away in public in order to stop a 'forcible felony'. Obviously the NRA and republicans love this sort of 'dirty harry' style law of personal responsibility, but it will be criminal defense lawyers that will be laughing all the way to the bank.

By eliminating the 'duty to retreat' the law sends the message that the righteous have taken back the streets. But it's also eliminated one of the biggest prosecutorial advantages in every single self-defense case. And by creating a presumption that a defendant was, in fact in a reasonable fear of death, the law will almost certainly assure a fighting chance for any murder defendant facing a case where it was just the two of them...

I actually think that this may be one of the greatest gifts the defense bar has ever gotten--it breathes new viability and new life into homicide cases--after all, as those of you who have tried murders know: there's no CW to dispute your version of the facts. So all those tough drug murder cases with the sketchy decedents have a new angle--the guy was coming to rob me of my drugs--he had a gun/knife/stick/pinkie ring and I knew he was a bad-ass, so just after he announces 'Gimee the shit--I'm sticking your ass up'I blew him away. Except now--bingo--you get the self defense instruction. Gotta love it.

The supreme irony of the whole thing is that it really is that point on the far side of the political circle where the far right wing anti-government guys actually reach around to close the circle with the far left defend the individual from the government sentiments of many defense lawyers.

2 comments:

Gideon said...

Ok, I re-read the statute and this is how I see it:

The police cannot arrest someone if self-defense is claimed. How is that to be claimed I'm not sure. If the police determines that the use of force was "unlawful", then they can arrest the individual. So, said individual walks free from the scene of a crime because of the "presumed bar".

Then, if the presumption is rebutted via investigation, arrests can be made and charges can be brought.

Then what? Having already rebutted self-defense, can a defendant then raise self-defense again? I'm not sure he/she can.

Gideon said...

Thought you might be interested - I've received a number of thoughtful comments on the Florida self-defense statute - one from a FL police officer. The comments are here and I've brought the post back up here.