We’ve spoken a lot about stand-your-ground defenses on our blog and how the State of Florida employs stand your ground. A recent court ruling shifted the burden of proof to the prosecution in these cases. For many, this heralds a troubling era in which Floridians will be shooting one another over petty squabbles.
After a recent shooting in a parking lot, those fears appear to be materializing.
What the Burden of Proof Shift Means
Stand your ground is an affirmative defense. The defendant says: “Yes I shot so and so, but I had a good reason.” Originally, stand-your-ground defenses repealed duty-to-retreat laws in which those who felt they were in mortal danger from the violence of another party had a duty to attempt to avoid the conflict. Stand your ground reversed that. Florida lawmakers said that there should be no duty to retreat if you are in mortal danger. You should be allowed to “stand your ground” and neutralize the threat with lethal force.
Until recently, however, the burden of proof was on the defendant to prove that they were in mortal danger. A recent Rick Scott-inspired amendment to the law shifted the burden of proof to prosecutors. Prosecutors are now forced into the position of proving that the defendant was not in mortal danger.
This puts them in a remarkably awkward position.
Fatal Parking Lot Shooting
Video of the fatal shooting shows Markeis McGlockton pushing Michael Drejka to the ground. Drejka then takes out a gun and shoots McGlockton. McGlockton later dies of the injuries. In the vast majority of states, Drejka is charged with either second-degree murder or manslaughter. In Florida, his case never goes to trial. In fact, no charges were ever filed against Drejka. He was never even arrested for the shooting.
Many, however, believe that if the races had been reversed, the shooter would have been arrested and tried. Part of the issue is that many of the most notable stand-your-ground cases have involved white shooters and black victims. That was also the case in this shooting.
Stand Your Ground Doesn’t Always Work
In 2014, Curtis Reeves, a retired police captain began an argument with Chad Oulson. Reeves asked Oulson to turn off his phone and Reeves did not like the response he got. An argument ensued in which Oulson threw his popcorn at Reeves and Reeves responded by shooting him. Oulson died. As a defense, Reeves invoked stand your ground, but that argument was denied by the court.
In this case, however, there was a white shooter shooting a white victim. There is also the fact that Reeves likely never felt in danger for his life since popcorn is not considered a deadly weapon.
Scott Skier Helps Criminal Defendants Get a Fair Day in Court
West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys at the Skier Law Firm P.A can help you with routine DUI offenses or more serious charges. Give us a call at (561) 220-3355 or contact us online, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.