Florida Changes Burden of Proof on Self-Defense Immunity

I see from Miguel Gonzalez’ excellent blog, Gun Free Zone, that Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed into law the legislation recently passed changing the burden of persuasion on self-defense immunity.

In effect, instead of the claimant (defender) having to now prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence (typically at a pre-trial hearing) in order to secure criminal and civil immunity for his use of defensive force, now once the claimant has made a prima facie claim of self-defense the burden is on the State to disprove the claim by clear and convincing evidence, or immunity attaches.

“Clear and convincing evidence” can be thought of as more than a preponderance of the evidence, but less than beyond a reasonable doubt.

The law change takes effective immediately.

The relevant statute, CS/SB 128, can be found here.

About the Author

Andrew Branca
Andrew F. Branca, Esq. is currently in his third decade of practicing law, and is an internationally-recognized expert on the law of self-defense of the United States. Andrew is a Guest Lecturer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy, a former Guest Instructor at the Sig Sauer Academy, an NRA Life-Benefactor Member, and an NRA Certified Instructor. He also teaches lawyers how to argue self-defense cases as a certified instructor with the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) system in numerous states around the country. Andrew is also a host on the Outdoor Channel’s TV show “The Best Defense” and contributor to the National Review Online. Andrew has been quoted as a SME (subject-matter expert) on use-of-force law by the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and many other mainstream media, including nationally syndicated broadcast media. Recently, Andrew won the UC Berkeley Law School debate on “Stand-Your-Ground,” and spoke at the NRA Annual Meeting Law Symposium on self-defense law. He is also a founding member of USCCA’s Legal Advisory Board. In addition to being a lawyer, Andrew is also a competitive handgun shooter, an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13), and a Master-class competitor in multiple IDPA divisions.

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