The Florida Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision on September 28, 2017, made the ruling and finding that a “stand your ground” immunity in a criminal case could not be used to block a civil lawsuit. Florida law allows “stand your ground” immunity in both criminal and civil cases. However, the Florida Supreme Court opinion on September 28th ruled that a determination of immunity in a criminal case does not carry over to a civil case.
The Florida Supreme Court in this case also referenced the change in the stand your ground law approved this year by lawmakers, and as I previously blogged about before, which is that the burden of proof now in “stand your ground” criminal cases has been placed on the prosecutor to prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that a Defendant is not entitled to such immunity. Previously under Florida law the burden had been placed on the Defendant.
In the court opinion, Florida Supreme Court Justice Lawson wrote that the change in the stand your ground law led to different burdens of proof in criminal and civil “stand your ground” cases. “(The) 2017 amendment to the Stand Your Ground law creating different burdens of proof for criminal and civil immunity not only implies an understanding that separate immunity determinations will be made but also forecloses any argument, going forward, that the criminal `determination' could ever be binding in the civil proceeding,” the opinion said. “Even in a case where the state could not prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant was not entitled to immunity, the criminal defendant may not be able to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he is entitled to immunity in the civil case.”
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime and you think that Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' law may apply to you, please give me a call at 386-257-1222 to discuss the facts of your case and how we can assist you with representation. Our consultations in criminal cases are free.