The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported October 15 that a 24-year-old Miami Gardens man charged with first-degree murder in the killing of a Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) linebacker at a party has invoked Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law to argue that all criminal charges should be dismissed. A grand jury also indicted the alleged offender on two counts of attempted first-degree murder in the shootings of two other people at the party.
According to the News-Journal, the alleged offender’s attorney filed a motion that states the two other people were shot unintentionally while the alleged offender was defending himself from the football player. The motion claims the alleged offender is about 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 108 pounds while the linebacker was 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 235 pounds.
According to the motion, the alleged offender claims he was “minding his own business not bothering anyone” at the party when he was attacked and beaten by the football player and one of his friends who also played college football and was 6 feet 2 inches and weighed 225 pounds. While waiting for his ride in the parking lot, the alleged offender claims he was confronted and threatened again by the linebacker and at least two others. The motion states that the alleged offender “was forced to make use of the firearm to either save his life or prevent further infliction of serious bodily injury.”
The brother of the deceased football player told the News-Journal that it was the alleged offender who intentionally bumped into the linebacker three times during the night before the two men got into a fight with the alleged offender throwing the first punch. “We got outside and he just came out with a gun and shot,” the football player’s brother told the News-Journal.
Stand Your Ground Defense Lawyer in Miami, FL
Chapter 776 of the Florida Statutes contains provisions relating to the justifiable use of force. Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law is codified under Florida Statute § 776.012 and Florida Statute § 776.013.
Florida Statute § 776.012 establishes that a person “is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.” People who use or threaten to use deadly force do not have a duty to retreat and have the right to stand their ground if they are not engaged in criminal activity and are in a place where they have a right to be.
Florida Statute § 776.013 provides that people are presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to themselves or another when using or threatening to use defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
- The person against whom the defensive force was used or threatened was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
- The person who uses or threatens to use defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
The aforementioned presumption does not apply, however, if:
- The person against whom the defensive force is used or threatened has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person;
- The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used or threatened;
- The person who uses or threatens to use defensive force is engaged in criminal activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further criminal activity; or
- The person against whom the defensive force is used or threatened is a law enforcement officer who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using or threatening to use force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.
If you believe that you may have a legitimate “Stand Your Ground” self-defense claim after being charged with a violent crime in South Florida, it will be in your best interest to immediately contact an experienced Miami criminal defense attorney. Evan Hoffman represents clients in and around the greater Miami-Dade County area.