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Defendant’s Stand Your Ground Claim Successful in Florida Aggravated Assault Case

As many people have become aware since the popularity of the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case, the Florida Stand Your Ground law allows a criminal defense lawyer representing a defendant charged with a crime of violence to file a motion to have the case thrown out based on the idea that the defendant had a right to defend himself against the alleged victim. Unlike a normal defense at a trial, the Florida Stand Your Ground law is an immunity to criminal prosecution. This means that if it is successful, the case is thrown out before it ever gets to a jury.

In a case near Jacksonville, Florida, the defendant was charged with aggravated assault after a power company employee climbed over his fence onto his property to shut off his electricity. The defendant exited his house with a gun, threatened the victim and fired a shot in his direction. The power company employee climbed back over the fence off of the defendant’s property and called the police. The defendant testified that he lived in a high crime area and did not initially know who the intruder was because the power company did not call ahead.

The court agreed with the defendant and threw out the aggravated assault charge. While the power company employee does have a right to come onto private property for service-related purposes, since the court believed the defendant did not know the intruder was a power company employee, he had a right to defend himself from someone he assumed was committing a burglary on his property. As long as the defendant discontinued the threat once he realized the guy was a power company employee rather than a criminal and the threat of violence was no longer justified, the Florida Stand Your Ground law applied in this case.