Criminal procedure is generally far more straightforward than civil procedure where there may be counter suits, cross suits, third parties, discovery, summary judgment motions, and more. But occasionally, things can get complicated in a criminal case when a defendant asks a judge to make a ruling based upon the law as to whether the defendant can be prosecuted at all.
“Stand your ground” laws were enacted in order to protect some people who (allegedly) just “stood their ground” from prosecution.
The issue came up Friday in a now-notorious case where four young Florida men invoked “stand your ground” as a defense to the charges they faced for the battery of two young gay men, which has been charged as an enhanced hate crime. Whether the defense is viable is a question of law, meaning a question that can only be answered by a judge, not a jury.
On Friday, Circuit Judge Ariana Fajardo Orshan declined to dismiss the battery charges. These four men were not just “standing their ground.” (VIDEO BELOW)
According to the Miami Herald:
The decision concluded a three-day hearing in which the four men sought immunity under Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law. The controversial Florida law, passed in 2005, gave judges greater leeway to dismiss charges, and eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat before using force to counter a threat.
“There’s nothing in that video — and I watched it over and over again — that showed me that any of these defendants was in fear for their safety or their lives,”
Indeed, prosecutors say the attack was obvious:
Prosecutors said Lopez attacked the men after Chalarca accidentally brushed him coming out of the bathroom. They allegedly began to call the victims an anti-gay slur in Spanish, police said. As depicted on surveillance video, the attackers repeatedly punched the two gay men, in the face, causing cuts and bruises. The blows temporarily knocked out Logunov.
Nothing would prevent the four men from claiming self-defense in a trial because self-defense is a factual issue determined by juries. However, after judges make rulings such as the one above, the cases rarely go to trial. It is usually at this point that a deal is made to plead guilty in exchange for a more lenient sentence.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
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