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Stand Your Ground Expanded In Florida

Stand your ground takes another step up, as the Appellate court holds that a Floridian has no duty to retreat under Stand Your Ground Laws. Whether or not the shooter was engaged in unlawful activity at time of the shooting, does not matter, wherein Stand Your Ground law contains no requirement that the person claiming protection under the statute not be engaged in “unlawful activity.” This body of law arose out of the opinion of State of Florida v. John Dorsey, — So.3d —-, 2014 WL 4996171 (4th DCA Fla2014); a Palm Beach County Case, where trial Judge Charles Burton unlawfully charged the jury, thereby taking away the rights of Mr. Dorsey guaranteed to him by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8, of the Florida Constitution and the Florida Legislatures, when the Judge refused to give a jury instruction on Stand Your Ground.

In Dorsey, the defendant killed two people in Palm Beach County, Florida. Dorsey killed the two people by shooting them. Dorsey was convicted of two counts of second degree murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and carrying a concealed firearm. Dorsey’s charges arose from a confrontation at a high school “keg” party that ended in the shooting deaths of the two victims. The Appellate court, after reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, concluded that the evidence was insufficient to sustain convictions for second degree murder; and reversed that conviction too and found that Dorsey only committed the lesser crime of manslaughter. The Appellate court explained that the evidence established an impulsive overreaction to an attack, which warranted convictions for manslaughter only and not second degree murder as the trial Judge Charles Burton had affirmed.

Additionally, the Appellate court went further to opine that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on Dorsey’s right to use justifiable deadly force, specifically regarding his duty to retreat under the “Stand Your Ground” law, because he had a prior felony conviction. The trial court erroneously failed to give a jury instruction that Dorsey had a right to Stand Your Ground, denying Mr. Dorsey of his Constitutional and Due Process Rights. Accordingly, the appellate court reversed the defendant’s convictions. Therefore, because of Judge Charles Burton’s errors, Mr. Dorsey was denied his right to a fair trial and his case will be remanded back to a new trial division to be retried with the direction that he may rely on the defense of Stand Your Ground.

The Dorsey opinion shows the Appellate court’s appetite for strict construction of Florida Statues, the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution. Many times the meaning of the “law” is distorted, as it was in Dorsey, Id., by activist judges who have an agenda. “Axe grinding” judges cause the suffering of not only the defendant but also the suffering of society.

Here, Dorsey was denied his right to a fair trial, because a trial judge read something into the law that did not exist. The trial judge refused to provide a jury instruction of self-defense, under Stand Your Ground, to Dorsey because he was a convicted felon, and under the laws of Florida and the United States, it is unlawful for a convicted felon to possess a “firearm.” The problem with the judge’s interpretation of the law, is that the language of refusing to give a jury instruction to a defendant, who claims self-defense with a firearm under Stand your Ground and who is a convicted felon, “does not exist” in the Stand Your Ground Statute; “does not exist” in the Self-Defense instructions of Florida Law; and “does not exist” under the U.S. or Florida Constitutions. So, it is very easy to figure out why and how Dorsey suffered from a judge who did not properly charge a jury, as the defendant’s right to a fair trial was usurped. But what about society, how does society suffer?

Whether or not you believe in the use of guns is not the issue. The issue is the judge and his refusal to believe in the law, which then spills over into refusing to give a jury information that the defendant had a constitutional right to stand his ground regardless of whether he was committing a crime. Is this harmful to society? That answer is in the affirmative. The other issue is the cost of re-trying criminal cases that the taxpayers must absorb. Lastly, the defendant, Mr. Dorsey has been jailed ever since he was wrongfully convicted. This means as a society, we are willing to tolerate a wrongfully imprisoned person because of the “feelings” we have towards an instrument, a gun or firearm, as opposed to following the law. Again as a society, when we allow wrongfully convicted citizens to sit in prison because of an “axe grinding judge” we set ourselves up, because before long, the axe that the government is grinding might be someone near and dear to you.

If you have been arrested or are facing Firearms or Gun charges contact the 2nd Amendment Lawyer of Palm Beach County, Andrew D. Stine. West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney, Andrew D. Stine, strongly believes in the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 8 (a) of The Florida Constitution “Right to bear arms” provision which states- “The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.” Before practicing law, West Palm Beach Criminal Trial Lawyer, Attorney Andrew D. Stine, proudly served in the U.S. Army for over a decade, where his respect for the use of weapons in self-defense was solidified. Remember, hiring a lawyer to protect your rights with Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew D. Stine is his passion, and not just his job. Hire Stine for all gun crimes or Do the Time.

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