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Stand Your Ground Immunity Police Entering Home

Posted by John P. Rutkowski | Nov 09, 2019 | 0 Comments

Immunity, Stand Your Ground law -- (LAMBERT, J.) In 1892, the Florida Supreme Court explained that one's home is the castle of defense for himself and his family, and that an assault upon it with an intent to injure him, or any of them, may be met in the same way as an assault upon himself, or any of them, and that he may meet the assailant at the threshold, and use the necessary force for his and their protection against the threatened invasion and harm . . . . Exceptions. Prosecution arising out of defendant's firing of a warning shot from the front porch of his home, which precipitated a gun fight, after three individuals, who were in fact three plainclothes law enforcement officers attempting to effectuate a warrantless arrest on defendant's niece, attempted to forcibly remove niece from defendant's home. Trial court erred in finding that defendant was not entitled to the statutory presumption under section 776.013 of being in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm at the time he fired his warning shot. Trial court's findings that officers had neither entered the home nor removed defendant's niece from the home were not supported by any evidence. Officers' actions constituted entry into defendant's dwelling under sections 776.013(5)(a) and (b) where unrefuted testimony from niece and officers conclusively showed that officers reached into the home to pull niece out, and that officers thereafter physically engaged with the niece on the front porch to eventually remove her to the front lawn. Defendant was entitled to statutory presumption of having held a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm to his niece where the three officers, who never announced that they were law enforcement, clearly had just removed niece against her will from defendant's dwelling, and defendant knew that this apparently unlawful and forcible act had just occurred. Amendment to section 776.032, which shifted burden at pretrial immunity hearings to the state, applies retroactively. Trial court applied incorrect burden of proof. Defendant sufficiently raised a prima facie claim for self-defense immunity which was defendant's sole burden. Court withholds issuance of a writ of prohibition and relinquishes jurisdiction to the trial court with directions that the trial court specifically address whether either the exceptions under sections 776.013(2)(c) or (d) apply to preclude defendant from being entitled to immunity for his otherwise justified use of deadly force. If at the hearing the state fails to meet clear and convincing standard of proof that defendant's actions fall under one of these exceptions, trial court shall grant defendant's motion and discharge him from crimes charged.

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About the Author

John P. Rutkowski

Mr. Rutkowski has been practicing law for the past twenty-four years. Prior to going to law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a deputy sheriff before retiring to attend law school. Upon graduating law school Mr. Rutkowski served as a prosecutor in Florida before going in to private practice.

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