Major changes in the works for Florida's self-defense "burden of proof"

Two state bills would shift burden to prosecutors
Posted at 9:14 PM, Feb 23, 2017

Two separate bills, one in the House and one in the Senate both propose flipping the burden of proof from defendants to prosecutors in stand your ground and self-defense cases, potentially stopping the cases, from ever going to trail.

George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn, and Curtis Reeves all claimed either "self defense" or "stand your ground" in cases where they shot and killed someone during a confrontation.  

And all of those cases may have taken a very different legal course if  the burden of proving "self defense" was on the prosecutor and not the defendant, which is exactly what two new bills making their way through the state legislature would do.

Republican State Senator Jeff  Brandes from Pinellas County is co-sponsoring the bill.

"Consistent with our law the state should always have the burden of proof i these situations the state should always have to prove that you acted outside the law," says Senator Brandes.

Tampa Defense attorney Barry Cohen says if the bills become law  it opens the door for accused killers to avoid trail.

"I think this is ridiculous it's unfair to the state and I'm a defense lawyer," he says.

"If there are two people in a house-- a husband and wife-- and the wife shoots and kills the husband and all she has to say is he came at me with a knife. How is the state going to prove that?," he says.

The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence says they are concerned about the proposed bills and the message it may send if it becomes law.

And just to clarify, even if this bill becomes law it would not affect the Reeves case, because he's being prosecuted under the current law.



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