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Burden of Proof Shifts in Stand Your Ground Cases

June 12th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Lawmakers made changes this year to the Stand Your Ground law and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, prosecutors say the change may let some bad guys go free.

A 2011 road rage incident involving an Indiana family on their way to a theme park has shaped Stand Your Ground cases ever since.

“And he stopped in the middle of the road and he will not move his vehicle” said a 911 caller in the car.

“He has a gun pointed to me at the back of my car” claimed the driver who stopped in front of the Indiana family.

The driver who made the first call was charged with aggravated assault. His case went to the State Supreme Court. The court said it was okay for prosecutors to make people claiming stand your ground to prove they were in fear for their life.


“and prosecutors have been ignoring the law” says the NRA’s Marion Hammer.

The NRA has been fighting the so called burden of proof hearings ever since. Lawmakers agreed and the Governor has signed legislation that now shifts that burden.

“It just puts the burden of proof back on the prosecutors where it should have been all along” says Hammer.

The NRA had powerful allies: The state’s public defenders. Stacy Scott is the Public Defender in the 8th Circuit headquartered in Gainesville.


“What happens if a person exercises their right to self defense and is arrested anyway? What happens is they are in a world of trouble” Scott told a legislative committee earlier this year.

Before the change, advocates argued you were guilty until you could prove your innocence. Now you are innocent until proven guilty.”


State Attorney Jack Campbell says the change will make it harder to get witnesses to cooperate.

“The hardest problem we have in a lot of these cases is to get our victim comfortable enough and will ing to come forward to face their accusers. This is going to set up a scenario where will have to do that twice” says the top prosecutor for the Second Judicial Circuit.

Prosecutors also say the change could let some bad guys, particularly gang members, go free.

Prosecutors did win one battle. Lawmakers settled on clear and convincing as the standard for proving intent…that’s one step lower than where lawmakers started, which is beyond a reasonable doubt.

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