Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has been the subject of much commentary from TV talking heads, internet bloggers, and other “armchair attorneys.” Regardless of what one might think about the wisdom of the law, the fact remains that this law may, in the hands of a skillful Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney, provide a person accused of a serious crime a distinct possibility to avoid a conviction.
A recent case from Manatee County illustrates how helpful and far-reaching “Stand Your Ground” immunity can be. In C.C.’s aggravated battery case, it was undisputed that C.C. and her boyfriend, G.B., went out to a Palmetto biker bar, where they met and partied with Mr. C. and Ms. E.
G.B. and C.C. later invited their new acquaintances to their Palmetto trailer home. There, a disagreement erupted between Mr. C. and G.B. That disagreement devolved into a fight.
G.B. and C.C. told Mr. C. to leave, but he didn’t. The fight continued, and the two men wrestled to the floor. C.C. became worried about G.B.’s safety, so she fetched a shotgun, pumped it, and fired off a pair of warning shots. She then ordered Mr. C. to stop. He didn’t.
She put the next shot in Mr. C.’s torso.
The state charged C.C. with aggravated battery, which is a second-degree felony and can get you as much as 15 years in prison. C.C. asserted immunity under the “Stand Your Ground” law.
So, was C.C. entitled to the protection of “Stand Your Ground” immunity and entitled to have her aggravated battery charge thrown out? According to the appeals court, yes, she was.
Many people know that you are entitled to “stand your ground” if someone is attacking you and you fear that you’re in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm. You may also know that you can use this argument if you feared that someone else was at imminent risk of death or serious injury.
What you may not know is that the law has another component. That part says that you are entitled to assert Stand Your Ground immunity if you acted “to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
So, what was the forcible felony in this case?
Burglary. Florida law recognizes as a crime something that is sometimes called “remaining in” burglary. That type of burglary occurs when someone remains somewhere, even after permission to be there has been withdrawn by the property owner if that person remains there with the intent to commit an offense.
There are two ways that permission can be withdrawn. It can be revoked by an explicit statement from the owner, or it can be implicitly revoked if the person “commits a subsequent criminal act against the owner.”
At this point, you may start to see all the pieces that came together to give C.C. immunity and all of the many hurdles that her defense team had to clear in order for her to win her immunity argument.
C.C. and G.B. expressly told Mr. C. to leave multiple times. Additionally, Mr. C. committed a battery upon G.B. That meant that both forms of withdrawal of permission existed in this case.
So, permission had been validly withdrawn, but Mr. C. nevertheless remained in the trailer with the intent to commit a crime (battery on G.B.) That made Mr. C. a perpetrator of “remaining in” burglary, which is a forcible felony in Florida, which meant that C.C. was entitled to Stand Your Ground immunity.
One additional important thing to keep in mind is that, even after you’ve asserted Stand Your Ground immunity, the burden of proof remains on the state. That means that the prosecution has the burden of proving “by clear and convincing evidence” that the elements of Stand Your Ground immunity were not present, rather than you having proved that those elements were present.
Whether the charges against you involve drug crimes, weapons crimes, theft crimes, crimes of violence or anything in between, count on the skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense attorneys at Blake & Dorsten P.A. to provide you with the clear advice and aggressive advocacy you need to put on your best defense possible. Call us today at (727) 286-6141 to schedule your FREE initial consultation.