A Miami man is attempting to use Florida’s controversial “stand-your-ground” statute as a way to seek immunity for child abuse charges brought against him. The cases involves a 30-year-old Miami tennis instructor who is accused of hitting a five-year-old boy with a tennis racket, causing bruising on the boy’s right arm and a lump on his eyebrow. The man is charged with child abuse, but feels that he acted in self-defense.
A Claim of Self-Defense
The Defendant in this case is stating that the blow to the child was inadvertent, and that the child was the initial aggressor in this situation. According to the defense, the child was participating in violent altercations with other students and had lifted the racket to strike others. The defense is claiming that the defendant acted “reasonably” in trying to prevent harm to others.
Motion to Grant Immunity
In the state of Florida, defendants can claim self-defense for immunity for violent acts in pre-trial hearings. In front of a judge, a defendant can invoke the state’s “stand-your-ground” statute in order to use force in a situation where the defendant felt threatened. The judge will decide based on evidence presented if immunity will be granted or not.
Burden of Proof in Pre-Trial Hearing
As the law stands now, the burden of proof for stand-your-ground in these pre-trial hearings is on the prosecution to prove whether force was used lawfully or not. Prosecutors have to prove in a “clear and convincing” manner that a defendant was not acting in self-defense if they do not want immunity granted in a case.
Stand-Your-Ground Defense Success Rate
This statute essentially removes the legal responsibility to retreat from a dangerous situation, and allows the use of deadly force when someone is threated. It has been very successful as a defense in cases in Florida when force has been used. A Tampa Bay Times investigation in 2012 found that almost 70 percent of the defendants who invoked stand-your-ground defenses went free.
If you are accused of a crime that you feel involved self-defense in the state of Florida, stand-your-ground law may apply to your case. It’s best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you determine the appropriate defense for your individual case.
David Ovalle [email protected] (n.d.). Miami man claims self-defense against a 5-year-old boy ‘armed’ with a tennis racket. Retrieved December 06, 2017, from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article188168274.html
Woodall, B., & F. (2017, June 09). Florida governor signs bolstered ‘stand your ground’ law. Retrieved December 06, 2017, from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-florida-guns/florida-governor-signs-bolstered-stand-your-ground-law-idUSKBN19033X
Spies, M. (2017, May 16). Florida’s expanded ‘Stand Your Ground’ law has prosecutors sounding the alarm. Retrieved December 06, 2017, from http://www.businessinsider.com/stand-your-ground-law-florida-prosecutors-sounding-the-alarm-2017-5