Legislative Update—Latest Laws Affecting Florida Gun Rights

Legislative update from Florida by Independent Program Attorney James Phillips.



Legislative update: In 2017 there was a extremely important change made to the law regarding self defense that everyone should be aware of.

This is in regards to our immunities statute, which is found in Florida Statute 776.032. Prior to July, a defendant in a criminal proceeding wanting to claim immunity from prosecution had to show by a preponderance of the evidence in a pretrial hearing that he or she was entitled to immunity. This was one of the only times a defendant in a criminal case ever had a burden to prove anything.

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Now a defendant only has to make an initial showing that he or she was justified in using defensive force, and then the government must show by clear and convincing evidence that the party claiming immunity was not justified.

Not only did this law change take the burden off the criminal defendant and place it on the government, but it also made the government’s burden to rebut the defendant’s claim of self-defense higher.

legislative update, james phillips
Independent Program Attorney James Phillips

In July of this year, the new version of the immunity law made national news after a circuit court judge in Miami ruled that the new version of the law contained unconstitutional changes. The judge did not find that the language of the statute was unconstitutional, but rather declared it unconstitutional because the legislature did not have the two thirds, or super majority, votes needed to make the procedural change.

On August 11, 2017, a second Miami circuit court judge found the new version of the immunity law unconstitutional for the same reason.

It is important to know that both of the circuit court judge’s rulings were not made in appellate case, but in cases that originated in their courtrooms.

So what does that mean to you and I?

These two decisions have no binding effect anywhere in the state of Florida except in those two judges’ courtrooms. Ultimately this issue will probably be fleshed out by the Florida Supreme Court.

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Comment section

8 comments on “Legislative Update—Latest Laws Affecting Florida Gun Rights

  1. Very important change. Excellent information for anyone who carries.

  2. I saw this coming even before the bill was signed. I was a former prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney Wayback when. The state always has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. Self-defense is reasonable doubt in itself. This preliminary hearing for self-defense is just that. Preliminary hearings can be requested on any felony in Florida. If self defense is should there without any valid state evidence to the contrary, the judge should dismiss The case. If not, the defendant has a second chance with the jury, but the beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt standard takes place. Best, regardless of the preliminary hearing, the state can always re-file if they have new evidence where as after a trial, not guilty is not guilty forever.

  3. Excuse the syntax errors. Voice to text at 5 o’clock in the morning!

  4. Thank you for keeping us up to date and well informed. It feels good knowing I have US Law Shield in my wallet and on my side.

  5. Does this mean we have the law being applied differently to individuals, depending on which judge is hearing the case?

  6. Was the law passed w/o the two-thirds super majority? Does that actually put the intent of the law in jeoprdy or is it law as it is written & the 2 judges are mistaken?

    Is the law, law?

  7. This is good to know. “As it should be” .. really tired of judges trying to make criminals out of law abiding citizens and letting others off with “slaps on the hand”.

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