Stand Your Ground Defense in the Spotlight Again
The stand your ground defense legislation will be used to defend a man who shot and killed another man in a disagreement about the use of a cell phone in a Florida movie theater.
Curtis Reeves, now aged 73, is a retired Tampa police captain. He faces a second-degree murder charge for the part he played in killing Chad Oulson, age 43. He allegedly argued with Oulson about him texting on his cellphone during the previewing of films. The incident happened in a theater in Wesley Chapel, Fla. Reeves allegedly shot and killed him.
Evidence revealed from video footage indicated that Oulson threw the cellphone at Reeves and hit him in the face. As a consequence, it is alleged that Reeves shot and killed Oulson and and injured his wife. Now that Reeve’s trial is about to start, his Florida criminal defense attorney has announced that Florida’s “stand your ground” law will be used to justify his action.
The law was passed years ago and has had its share of controversy. It permits a person in Florida to use “deadly” force in defense under certain exacting conditions. If a judge decides in a pretrial hearing that this incident meets the correct legal criteria, the defendant will be relieved of a criminal prosecution and any civil action.
The law requires that the defendant must have had “reasonable belief” that hisor her life was seriously threatened and this belief resulted in the use of deadly force against the person or persons who were believed to be the threat.
About 50 percent of other states have similar laws to Florida and 9 others, determined through case law, have confirmed that a victim is not required to retreat. The Florida law was considered controversial in 2013 during George Zimmerman’s jury trial for the slaying of black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in 2012. His defense team used the Florida stand your ground law and the trial ended successfully for Zimmerman.
Interestingly, Zimmerman’s defense lawyers chose not to hold a pretrial hearing before the judge but went straight to trial using the law and won acquittal. This was a case that attracted national and international attention at the time.
There are a number of key witnesses lined up for the Reeves case, including a FBI agent now retired who specialized in use-of-force case and a detective, also now retired, who detailed the Zimmerman case in a published book. The hearing is not set to take place until January next year. Attorneys in this case will choose to have the pretrial evidentiary hearing first. If the judge decides against them, they can then proceed to a jury trial and attempt an acquittal from a jury using the same defense.
As defined by Florida statutes, 776.013, and 776.012, Reeves’s Florida criminal defense lawyer will have to justify his client’s need to use deadly force and that he had no obligation to retreat. Put more simply, that means that Reeve’s Miami criminal defense attorney will have to prove that Reeves considered that his life was under threat or he faced serious injury if he had not defended himself in the way he did. Before the Florida law was created in 2005 any victim who felt threatened could defend him or herself but they were required to use other means of diffusing the threat by retreating. The law can be used in simple battery misdemeanor cases including the domestic violence.
Depending on the Stand Your Ground law is by no means certain. Every case where someone is killed or injured in an incident or charged with simple assault or battery has to be treated individually. If you think you had to defend yourself against a perceived threat, don’t expect the police to necessarily treat you leniently because of the existing legislation. You will need an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney to unravel the exact circumstances of the incident and aggressively fight in your defense. Albert Quirantes a Miami criminal defense attorney stands ready to fight that fight.
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If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.