A man who is accused of tormenting and then crushing an iguana is facing animal cruelty charges in Florida. However, prosecutors have one major hurdle before gaining a conviction. The man is raising a “stand your ground” defense.
Under Florida law, an individual cannot be held responsible for taking the life of another if they were in reasonable fear of their own life. The burden is on the prosecution to prove that the individual was not in fear of their life at the time they used lethal force. However, a “stand your ground” defense has never been used in relation to a small animal that is only a fraction of the size of your foot.
The defendant is seen on video abusing the iguana. The video shows the defendant kicking, punching, and throwing the iguana before ultimately stepping on it. The defendant’s lawyers claim that he was attacked by a vicious animal. The defendant was treated for an iguana bite, but it would appear that the iguana has a better defense to the assault than the defendant.
While Florida’s stand-your-ground laws are much more difficult to overcome than other state laws regarding self-defense, the threat must still be immediate. There is also the assumption that a reasonable person acting in their own self-interest would see the threat posed as likely to cause death or serious bodily injury.
However, it’s hard to see how an iguana causes a man enough credible fear to go on kicking, punching, and tossing the iguana around until stepping on it. In other words, the threat was not lethal. He was not in fear of his own life. If the man had killed the iguana and then brought it back to the hospital with him so that the doctors can ensure he didn’t acquire an infection, that would be a totally different story. But even Florida doesn’t allow you to torture, anyone, to death simply because they pose a threat. You can act within the scope of a credible threat to neutralize the threat. You cannot torture anyone under stand your ground, even an animal.
What happens now?
In most states, the burden of proof is on the defendant to show that they used justified force. In Florida, the prosecutor has to convince a judge prior to the case reaching a jury. That means that the prosecutors will be arguing on behalf of an iguana and attempt to argue that the iguana did not pose a threat to the defendant other than the one he created by abusing the animal.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve had any run-ins with a vicious iguana lately, then you need an attorney. Call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your options to defend yourself against the charges.