It's now easier to claim stand your ground protection in Florida
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Vice: self defense = murder . . . It’s easier than ever to get away with murder in Florida

“I was in fear for my life.”

That’s essentially all 22-year-old Reginald Bowman needed to say in court this week to justify shooting and killing 18-year-old Lyfe Coleman in Tampa in 2015. As long as prosecutors can’t prove he wasn’t afraid, he’ll go free.

Bowman is trying to use a new version of Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, which gives people immunity from prosecution for murder and other violent charges if they acted in self-defense. Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature revamped the law and made it easier than ever for someone to claim they simply “stood their ground” if they killed or seriously injured another person. Now, courts are seeing more people claim immunity under the law.

According to Vice, it’s too easy to claim fear of death or grievous bodily harm in The Gunshine State.

Florida became the first state to pass a Stand Your Ground law in 2005. The old version required the person claiming immunity to prove in a pretrial hearing that they used deadly force because they felt threatened. Under the new version of the law, however, the burden of proof falls on prosecutors to convince a judge that the defendant did not feel threatened to move forward with the case.

At least Taylor Dolven, who wrote the post for Vice, doesn’t repeat the bogus claim that George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin was based on a ‘stand your ground’ defense. Well, not entirely.

The recent changes to the Stand Your Ground law are the latest in a series of additional protections implemented since George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teengare in Miami in 2013. Although Zimmerman did not claim a Stand Your Ground defense, the jury’s instructions included language from the law.

Dolven and Vice would no doubt like to see Florida go back the the bad old days of ‘duty to retreat.’ But thirty-three states have now enacted some kind of stand your ground protection for citizens who face the threat of death or grievous bodily harm and the trend is toward more legal protection for individuals, not less.



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      • They may have a vested interest in not having people be able to stand their ground. What if one of their staffers pulled a gun on a molesting exec?

    • “VICE” = Bloomberg. I can’t remember the figures, but it was at least $50MM that Bloomie used to buy a substantial stake in the “news” portion of the company..

      Sadly, it was OK 20 years ago, before A&E, and later Disney itself, threw hundreds of $MMs at it. Now, they’re merely well-funded effete Brooklyn hipster SJWs.

      Not as cool in the 90s as SPY, but I remember it was acceptably weird and fun.

      • It is the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed a crime. Murder involves criminal intent. Manslaughter involves very serious negligence.

      • No.
        As a defendant, if you claim self defense, it remains the duty of the prosecution to prove it wasn’t.
        See, if it wasn’t self defense, then it was a crime (given the normal scenarios). And it is the burden of the prosecution to prove a crime was committed.
        As a defendant, you may need to explain your claim, but you don’t need to prove it. At least in the US.
        And I realize that in some places, self defense isn’t a defense. In such places, even proving self defense won’t work (outside of jury nullification).

      • The law requires the prosecution to present ALL evidence in a case whether against or for the defendant. Withholding ANY evidence WILL be cause for a mistrial and possibly block further charges from being brought against the defendant.

      • Claiming self defense is an assertive defense. It is NOT the prosecutions job to argue the point, it is the defenses. If the argument for self deference reaches a certain level the charges should be drooped. But requiring the prosecution prove anything before proceeding to trial is ridiculous. All they need to is show there is a reasonable possibility it was not self defense to proceed. Not prove it. This is a pretrial motion, not an actual trial.

        And yes, the prosecution cannot withhold any evidence. Why are you even arguing that point?

        • Binder you need to read the changes to the Florida “Stand You Ground” Statue. It clearly puts the burden of proof on the Prosecution not the Defendant. Once the Defendant states that he/she was in fear of their life, the Prosecution must then before a Judge prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not in fear of his/her life. Even where I live, if someone breaks into my home, I do not have to retreat, the very fact that they broke in, is sufficient grounds for me to use deadly force, they do not have to be armed, and they do not have to verbally or physically threaten harm, the fact that the enforceabley entered my home is proof of intent to cause harm. Each state is different with their Stand Your Ground Law, Florida’s also applies on public streets.

        • First of all, why does’t anyone post a link to the actual changes.

          The court ruling was that the defendant has the burden of proof BEFORE trial. The burden for the prosecution to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt is during the trial, not before it. The only thing the prosecution is require to do is present sufficient evidence to proceed. Any law that requires the prosecution to prove ANY case before trial is incredibly stupid and dangerous. Because at that point don’t you have a ruling of guild if it is proven you do not act in self defense?

          Second, your example of a response to a home break is clearly a legal act anyway and would likely not result in charges even in Chicago. 🙂

      • Binder,

        I am not sure what country you are living in, but in the USA everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If any individual harms or kills another and claims “self defense” investigators AND the prosecutor are then obligated to obtain sufficient evidence to establish that the incident may not have been self defense before the individual may be charged with a crime. That fact is true and valid whether the injury or death was the result of fisticuffs, or discharge of a firearm. To the extent that a state even “allows” self defense, the presumption of innocence exists in every case.

        In Florida, their law has been changed to require the prosecutor to first establish reasonable doubt that an incident was self defense before proceeding to a grand jury asserting criminal charges. I see nothing in the recent change that is questionable. If you are unfamiliar with the law look it up. You apparently do have internet access!

        • The new law changed the standard to “Clear and convincing evidence” from “preponderance of the evidence” at the immunity hearing. A guilty ruling at the actual trial still requires the burden of “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
          This was struck down as changes to trial procedures requires a 2/3 vote in the Florida state legislature, so why is this even being talked about

    • Law that requires the prosecution PROVE their case BEFORE trial even stupider than VICE and TAG put together. Usually how trials work is that the prosecution needs to provide sufficient evidence to proceed, NOT prove guilt. That’s what the actual trial if for.
      And yes you are still assumed Innocent, where in the world are you getting that idea that somehow you lost that?

  1. …gives people immunity from prosecution for murder and other violent charges if they acted in self-defense.

    So you can’t be charged with a violent crime…if what you did is not a crime.

    Under the new version of the law, however, the burden of proof falls on prosecutors to convince a judge that the defendant did not feel threatened to move forward with the case.

    Wow, we should apply this burden of proof standard to all criminal proceedings…oh wait…we already do.

    • Which is false. Stand Your Ground/self defense is an AFFIRMATIVE legal defense. The burden of proof is on the defendant in such cases. It is the same case with the insanity defense. The defense has to prove that the defendant IS insane, not that he/she isn’t.

      • Like the lost man who was shot while walking down the street by a woman who thought he was her abusive ex-boyfriend. Or the teenagers who were playing their music too loud at the gas station. Or the man whose house party annoyed his neighbor. Each one of their murderers claimed they were standing their ground, and one actually got away with it. They had nothing to fear, yet they’re dead now.

        • That’s why we have juries, it’s not a perfect world but it’s better then socialist in charge troll

        • No, they didn’t claim to be “standing their ground”. You inserted this to lay a specious foundation for your false argument. The examples you cite were tragic, but not one involved a “stand your ground” situation.

  2. Question for the TTAG legal folks –

    What are the chances that SCOTUS one day may rule ‘duty to retreat’ laws as unconstitutional?

    (Provided it makes its long way through the courts and is dropped into the Court’s lap…)

    • Greater than some may think. The Heller decision is essentially a re-writing of the purpose of the 2A from having the arms necessary to fight a tyrannical government to self defense. They basically ruled that the 2A is a right to self defense.

      • It is my assertion, and it is one I have reason to believe is made by many others, that fighting a tyrannical govt is just as much an instance of self defense as shooting a would-be thug robber.

      • Misinterpretations abound. The SCOTUS’ decision only showed that the 2nd amendment also covers self defense, NOT that it ONLY covers self defense!

        • Yup, beat me to it, Rattler. That case was developed because the totalitarian dark state’s slow but sure chipping away at the 2nd/A until it get’s the desired affect of disarming the strong potential of political opposition to an out of control government that’s up to obvious tyranny methodology by creating a police surveillance state with no 4th/a privacy and so they tried to present the lie that the 2nd/A is only for G authorized Militias, not the private citizen, enough times to ultimately get a SCroteAss court to agree. But it didn’t work.

          Now, if we want to prevent them from continuing another despotic confiscation stragegy, we have to reverse/repeal all gun control laws that they already laid down, and make sure that you can’t be permanently prohibited from ever having a gun again after committing a crime even if you are free from incarceration, rehabilitated, and once again a law abiding citizen. You can mow down a hundred people with a truck but not lose your drivers license after you get out of jail and have even a bigger truck afterward! So why just guns?

          Because This is their ultimate confiscation tool because they can keep making all kinds of social behavior illegal like the spawn of hell ‘War on Drugs’ hoax, by making target focus ‘laws’ that most people can’t avoid breaking. (search the intentiaonal criminalization of America. Even George T Will wrote something on that).

          So someone needs to start a class action lawsuit against the illegal 68′ gun control act that mandates permanent prohibition of gun possession for self defense and anti-Tyranny defense, which if prevails, will forever prevent totalitarian governments from disarming anyone permanently. Which then forever prevents a strong totalitarian government from despotic enslavement of the populate.

  3. I went ’round and ’round on this on a far more liberal discussion board, and it came down to this: what the antis are really doing is assuming that some folks will manage to manipulate others into attacking just so they can shoot to kill said attackers.

    Sure, there could be some such people, and they might even pull it off. But achieving that requires the cooperation of the person they want to kill, so the premise turns out to really be based on the belief that it’s okay for people to be immature and lack self-control (except in the small portion where mental illness or other impediment plays a part, but there are already more protections in the law for them). In other words, they’re assuming not only that the government should be a nanny state, but that it should allow its citizens to wallow in immaturity.

    Of course they point to Zimmerman as an example, but that fails: while he was certainly an idiot for stalking Martin, and more so for ignoring the good advice he was given to back off, there is no way the facts can be twisted to make it so he manipulated Martin into attacking just so he could fight back with lethal force. So they’re left with… well, not nothing but with the assumption (again) that everyone is good and nice until guns come along and cause bizarre behavior.

    • A not insignificant number of lefties think its perfectly normal, reasonable and acceptable for people to assault others. For many getting wasted and throwing haymakers willy nilly is an everyday occurrence. The left has embraced hooligan culture. Pounding pints and punching each other is a-o-k. If you try to prevent that or defend against it you’re intolerant and racist.

      • “Pounding pints and punching each other is a-o-k.”

        There’s a song that covers that quite nicely, thank you :

        The Macc Lads – Twenty Pints

        “Twenty pints of Bonnington’s every Friday night.
        Twenty pints of Bonnington’s then we’re outside for a fight.”

      • I pointed that out in another article.
        Too many hoplophobes recognize, on some level, that they lack self-control, and have what amounts to an anger problem. And, being leftists, they assume they are better than most people.
        So their thinking goes something like this: “If I have this problem, and would probably shoot someone if I had a gun, what chance do others have to not do the same?”

    • “Of course they point to Zimmerman as an example, but that fails: while he was certainly an idiot for stalking Martin, and more so for ignoring the good advice he was given to back off…”

      He was not “stalking” Trayvon; and there is absolutely no evidence Zimmerman continued to follow Trayvon after the dispatcher told he did not have to.

    • There is nothing in the 911 call from Zimmerman to suggest he “stalked” Martin.

      If you actually listen tot the call, here is what happened. Zimmerman was in his car when he saw Martin wandering close to the condos with his hood up,which looked suspicious. GZ called the police to report this, and while he was on the phone, Martin approached and circled GZ’s truck then ran off. Zimmerman exited the truck to get Martin’s position for the responding officer. When the dispatcher asked GZ not to follow Martin, he said “OK” and immediately began making arrangements to meet police at a neutral location. He clearly stated he didn’t want to say his address aloud because he didn’t want Martin to hear it.

      Martin had ample opportunity to walk or run the short distance to father’s GF’s condo, but he didn’t. Instead he laid in wait to ambush Zimmerman.

      There was no stalking, and continuing to parrot that lie suggests Zimmerman did anything wrong.

      The George Zimmerman case is the scariest legal case regarding legal concealed carry in our lifetimes(except for the case of the man defending himself with the 10mm Kimber out west). He did nothing wrong yet had his life destroyed because the media had a slow news day, and a racist president needed to build credibility with his black voting base.

      • What case are you referring to, re 10mm Kimber? A quick duckduckgo search didn’t turn up anything but Kimber reviews…

      • Right. It was revealed clearly that TM was an overgrown street punk using and probably dealing in illegal drugs who was out way past his bedtime up to no good. He was well versed in ‘gang-banging’ ambushes-probably from his other punk gang members and waylaid Zimmerman. But of course, none of that was really ‘integrated’ into the investigation.

  4. Innocent until proven guilty is what we all learned in school. Maybe proving that the alleged murderer “laid in wait” could do that. To many obvious self defense claims go to court anyway.
    Sorry, but if someone is intending violence on me or mine, they face a bullet. My first will be aimed to stop him/her if I can, if the violence is still in action, 2 more to center mass or to the head.

    • If you feel for your life or the lives of family, most firearms self defense courses teach one thing…..two center mass followed by a head shot. You should never attempt to stop by wounding. If you truly feel that your life or lives of family/loved ones are in jeopardy, your goal should be to end the threat…..permanently!

    • If someone enters my house without permission, knowing I am there, it is entirely reasonable (meaning a reasonable person would think this) to assume that person figured he had, somehow, the ‘drop’ on me, and would act on that. That causes me to fear for my life.
      So far, I haven’t needed to make this claim in court.

      • Yes. a home invasion would be a very reasonable fear for your life reaction. After all, look at all these cops getting away with stating they were in fear of their lives after shooting people when they are twice the size of the poor confused mentally ill woman waving a kitchen fork, severely PTSD homeless unarmed refusing to cognitively connect with commands to throw themselves down on their knees face down in the dirt, or an autistic youth playing alone and waving a toy gun in a park, and even someone not hearing stupid screaming police orders to stop immediately while they are jogging away from them?

  5. Inquiring of the legal eagles around here — we have several practicing lawyers among our brain pool. What’s going on here for realz?

    — Does the Florida CYG law broadly impact the statutes for murder, manslaughter and similar in Florida, or only the narrow case of a “Stand Your Ground” defense?

    — Does the Florida CYG assert a positive broadly available right to “stand your ground” or more narrowly roll back the “duty to retreat?”

    I’ll point interested parties to the extensive coverage of the Zimmerman case hosted at the LegalInsurrection blog. Included in depth analysis by an expert in self-defense law. Similar to GrokLaw’s coverage of the near eternal SCO / Linux lawsuit — Where’d people with no business get the $ for all that lawfare again? — LI’s Zimmerman coverage is massively educational, as well as an example of actual journalism: You’re never unclear that they have a POV, and they report the facts strait, every time.

    On Florida CYG, it is my understanding that the usual standard for claiming self defense is that “a reasonable person” would feel in fear for their life in the circumstances at hand. They say defense lawyers hate this defense, as it:
    1) Flips the burden of proof from the prosecution (“They did it.”) to the defense {“The defendant was *reasonably* in fear for their life.”)

    2) Includes an admission of the act, potentially tossing a pile of “reasonable doubt.” You lose this kind of thing: “How do you know my client shot the guy? He picked up the gun, n got blood on his hands trying to deliver first aid.”

    Defense didn’t much like “duty to retreat” as the prosecution could make a crime out of a snap decision under pressure. “Yeah, they were in fear for their life. But if they’d have just looked around, you know, taken their eyes off of the guy shooting at them, they might have seen that duct work they could have crawled into, well, maybe.”

    • TAG is not much better than VICE in this. How about some actual research on how the law was changed. How can self defense not be a legal assertive defensive. Isn’t up to the defendant to prove self defense. And honestly, how can anyone prove or disprove how someone feels. Your feelings have nothing to do with it, just if your actions were “reasonable” given the circumstance.

    • In my not so humble vast experience in cases like this, I came to the evidenced conclusion a long time ago that prosecutors are far dirtier and insidious when it comes to neutralizing the ‘reasonable’ defense analysis at a trial. I think it works more in their favor than in the Defense’s. With examples like you mentioned in reverse. I’ve seen a prosecutor flip a jury for a manslaughter conviction which to most of us was an obvious ‘reasonable’ justified shoot just by skilled ‘admissions’ mining during cross examinations. By setting up the ‘mental state’ of the situation and circumstances of the self defense shooter before the actual encounter which wound up strongly suggesting that he was well aware of a possible encounter by the ‘situation’ he placed himself in and wasn’t really in fear of great bodily harm by any ‘reasonable standard’ so he intentionally contributed to and otherwise facilitated his own danger along with a combination of doubtful of fear conclusions?

      So yeah, it gets to be pretty convoluted and complicated sometimes and the person who ‘is in fear for their life’ sometimes can get ‘life’ behind bars. But fortunately most genuine cases also rely on ‘reasonable’ due process such as preliminary hearings and motions for obvious prima-fascia evidence in the defense. The moron terrorist just machete chopped three employees in a lunatic psychotic rage and the other employee also sitting in the diner eating wasn’t really ‘that’ much in fear because he knew he could jump out the back door fast to escape and he did have a concealed 357 snub on him but thought he should intervene and drop the attacker to help the other victims. No conviction hungry prosecutor would even think about charges with something like that.

      But like a couple people already mentioned, most of what ‘Vice’ says is totalitarian tyranny nonsense. We have a written in blood due process Constitutional Mandate of innocent until PROVEN guilty that although seems to have been compromised by a corrupted, imbalanced, and out of control criminal justice system, but these days the ‘Reasonable person’ test for deadly force is mostly abused by Police State oriented officers at this point in time.

  6. That VICE channel is total progressive/socialist garbage. They are trying to use the pot/alt music culture to force socialisim HARD. I watched it the other day where for five minutes some black woman walked around asking people if God was real. Anyone who answered yes got the stinkface from her and she would shake her head…heaping praise on all that answered God isn’t real. Now, I’m not looking for a religious debate here (I am not particularly religious myself) but I take offense to some brat who lucked into a free education (because of their race, not test scores, lets be honest) looking down on and belittling people for their beliefs. The whole time if you questioned these people on something they didn’t agree with there is no debate, they call you all sorts of vile names and tell you there is no place in society for you any more. Its a pure ultra-left propaganda channel. Sickening.

    • I would love to see them pull that in some of the Somali immigrant communities up in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. They won’t though because they’re cowards and trying to push a viewpoint. They were all up on the front line of the dirtbag White Supremacist Rallies, narry any coverage of the ANIFTA destruction, only interviews with effete well spoken members and supporters in calm indoor settings. Not at the street with broken and burning infrastructure.

  7. Any way to spend less money on lawyers courts and jails is a great thing. That is the real reason why Vice and others hate stand your ground.

  8. Vice sucks…oh wait you meant that lame leftard channel. All “stand your ground” implies is you CAN defend yourself. Heck even SnoopDog should’ve rotted in prison but got off because he feared for worthless hide. Merry Christmas!

  9. They always leave out the “reasonableness” test. They also leave out the “immediacy” test and the “death or grievous bodily harm” standard. It’s not enough that you felt threatened. VICE is lying, not that it should surprise anybody.

  10. Further notes on VICE’s mendacity:

    – They make it sound as if Bowman were already acquitted. He’s not.
    – Murders did not surge in the decade following SYG. They were basically flat.
    – They fail to note the testimony of witnesses that Bowman had been planning to rob Coleman all along.
    – They fail to mention that Bowman never called police, that he his his involvement, that he changed his story.

  11. It would be nice if someone at TTAG proof read anything. I know I can’t be the only one who feels typos are a distraction.

    No wat I meen?

  12. Duty to retreat is idiotic, but so is placing the burden of proof on the prosecution in defensive shootings. In such cases, the defendant admits to doing something that is ordinarily illegal, claiming that it was necessary because of extraordinary circumstances. In such cases, it should be up to the defense to show that it was indeed necessary.

    • While I get where you are coming from, the problem is that placing the burden on the defence makes for ease of abuse of the process. In Canada, we see this all the time in defensive shootings- google “Ian Thomson” for an egregious example (short story, he defended his house from some guys trying to firebomb it in the middle of the night, and the Crown threw everything they had against him). The process frequently becomes the punishment.

      You must ensure there are ironclad guarantees to protect the defensive shooter if you don’t want to end up like us. It is wrong to victimize the defensive shooter twice (once by the criminal attack, and the second by a governmental action designed to punish the peaceable ordinary citizen). Perhaps there should be a form of monetary remuneration for costs incurred during the court case if necessary.

    • “.. it should be up to the defense to show that it was indeed necessary.”

      No. No citizen should ever be put in a place of having to prove their innocence.

      A defensive shooting IS an extraordinary case but the default position should always be Innocent until proven otherwise. ALWAYS! If you have a domestic abuse case where a woman shot a man it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the woman commited murder. If you have a robbery case where the robber shot the victim it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the robber committed murder.

      A self defense shooting should be no different. The prosecution has to prove it was anything other than self-defense.

      Will this result in the possibility of someone hiding behind this law to commit murder? Like Mr Franklin said all those years ago, and it still applies today, “….it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer”

      • It’s interesting that you bring up domestic abuse, because I read about a rather relevant case last year. There was a woman who shot her ex in the bathroom at a restaurant. She claimed that he was abusive and stalked her there, but she was actually the stalker, and he was there on a date.

  13. So Vice believes that an unarmed teenager can’t kill you or cause grievous bodily harm to you, hmm, dumb message. Moreover, Martin, who was from the Miami area, was killed in the Orlando area, Sanford. Poor, agenda based journalism.

  14. Ya’ll may want to save yourselves from some aggravation. Spend $9.95 at on the Kindle version of Andrew Branca’s The Law of Self-Defense. You’ll discover some critical information as to, well, the Law of Self Defense. 90% of this thread is bullshit as to that information. (E.g., OH does indeed require that Defendant prove his innocence). I get no $ for recommending Branca’s material. YMMV

  15. Every notice that Lawyers almost NEVER defend the “Good Guy” ?
    They only defend the Evil in the world. This is why sometimes Good Innocent Victims go to Prison.

    We need to stop creating Victims & allow people to Stand their ground with LESS fear of becoming a “bad guy” for doing so.

    • I have noticed that most people who are charged with a crime, arrested, and brought in front of a judge are guilty. Maybe the cops and prosecutors are doing they’re jobs? Maybe they aren’t out there just harassing innocent people.


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