If signed by Gov. Scott, SB 128 would take effect immediately
In a Republican-heavy vote, the Senate gave its final approval on Friday to a bill that clarifies the state’s burden of proof in self-defense cases.
The legislation, SB 128, which expands justifiable homicide protections in Florida, was approved by the House 74-39 in April and 22-14 in the Senate last week, sending it to Gov. Rick Scott. The measure clarifies that the government, not the accused, has the burden of proof in a “stand your ground” immunity hearing, which supporters of the effort felt should have been the case all along.
The state legislature in 2005 passed a self-defense law that gave immunity from arrest, detainment, charging and prosecuting unless an investigation by the state reveals there was probable cause to believe the act was not, in fact, lawful self-defense. However, the Florida Supreme Court authorized prosecutors to use a special stand-your-ground hearing in which those under investigation must prove they are innocent rather than making the state prove guilt – and from there either apply charges and hold for trial or move to release.
Senate Bill 128 will reverse that process and holds that prosecutors will have to provide “clear and convincing” evidence to move forward to trial.
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