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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 10/1/2005 9:02:13 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2005 9:03:49 AM EDT by david_g17]
http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/100105/met_19920938.shtml

The Florida Times-Union

October 1, 2005

'Deadly force' law worries police

By J. TAYLOR RUSHING
Capital Bureau Chief


TALLAHASSEE -- It took only two days this summer for the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office to peek into a murder suspect's home computer and find a strong argument against the "deadly force" law that takes effect throughout Florida today.


Detectives say they discovered Travis Steeby, 20, had looked up Senate Bill 436, which passed the Florida Legislature this spring and eases guidelines for use of deadly force when threatened. Steeby initially wasn't charged because detectives say he told them he shot his roommate in self-defense. He's now in the St. Johns County jail awaiting a Thursday arraignment on murder charges.

The new law actually doesn't protect someone if premeditation is involved, but the Steeby case is the perfect example of widespread worry across Florida's law enforcement community about what this could bring. While legislators say the law will reasonably broaden self-defense statutes, sheriffs and prosecutors fear it will actually bring more murders.

"We live in a gray area out here, and legislators don't," St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said. "We have to make judgment calls at a 3 a.m. shooting all the time, and laws like this get passed by legislators in their offices who don't think about the implications on the ground. This case is a clear illustration that somebody paid attention to those implications a lot more than they did in Tallahassee."

Starting today the law rearranges the state's self-defense laws by allowing Floridians to use deadly force to protect themselves anywhere they have "a right to be" without first trying to retreat. By doing so, it broadens the "castle doctrine," named for the English common-law tradition that a man has a right to defend his castle, and applies it to public settings. As Senate Bill 436, it passed the Senate and House overwhelmingly and was immediately signed by Gov. Jeb Bush.

It's the gun law the gun lobby wanted. It was drafted by the National Rifle Association, represented in Tallahassee by Marion Hammer, a former national president of the group, and guided by legislators with strong gun-rights records. Both Hammer and the law's House sponsor, Republican Dennis Baxley, say the Steeby case is irrelevant and the new law is solid.


--------------------------------------------------
AT A GLANCE

'Deadly force' law

The "deadly force" law allows Floridians to use force against a perceived deadly threat and removes a traditional clause that requires them to retreat first before doing so.

What it says: A person has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be and the force is necessary to prevent death, great bodily harm, or the commission of a forcible felony."

When it passed: Senate Bill 436 passed the Florida Senate 39-0 on March 23 and the House 94-20 on April 5. It was signed by Gov. Jeb Bush on April 26.

--------------------------------------------------

"I've heard of no legitimate fears including this one," Hammer said. "Every law that exists can be abused by someone who is intent upon breaking the law. This is about victims and allowing them to protect themselves from criminals."

Baxley, an Ocala funeral director, said the law has been vetted and discussed with prosecutors.

"The legislation provides protection and the presumption of innocence for any law-abiding citizen," he said. "If he [Steeby] was contemplating the death of someone, he was certainly not under the protection of that law as I would understand it. ... It's in good shape to protect Florida."

The law's practical effect is difficult to determine. Sheriffs and state attorneys say the legal landscape is unlikely to change dramatically, but it is more possible that people may interpret the law rashly and wrongly, even with innocent intentions.

"There's always been a traditional requirement that you didn't have to retreat when attacked, so in reality this doesn't really give people any rights they didn't already have before," said Bruce Colton, president of the Florida State Attorneys Association. "My fear, though, is people knowing about this law but not understanding it. I can see someone innocently relying on this law and thinking they have a license to kill."

Other state attorneys worry about granting a new defense to murder suspects who could use the law to claim they acted in self-defense. Such a broad, subjective line of defense could apply in any number of situations where someone feels threatened -- a domestic dispute, a bar fight or even a nervous driver approached by a homeless person begging for change at a stop light.

"We will be faced with this," said State Attorney Harry Shorstein in Jacksonville. "I think then, and I think now, this is not well-thought-out legislation. Any reasonable analysis would conclude that this will be beneficial to defendants."

Shorstein and Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford both say they haven't issued any preparatory orders regarding the law, and rules and procedures for officers on the street probably won't change.

"But it is certainly going to make filing charges more difficult," Rutherford said. "We'll have to see how it plays out on the prosecution side."

Russell Smith, a Jacksonville attorney and vice president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, took a balanced view of the new law.

"As a criminal defense lawyer, it will make it easier for me to justify my clients' use of deadly force," Smith said. "With every one-on-one homicide, there will be a quantum increase in likelihood the person will be acquitted. But as a citizen, I'm concerned this will raise the level of public violence."

At least one change is already in the works: The Florida Bar has drafted a report to the state Supreme Court on possible changes to jury instructions. The report, which is pending before justices, proposes broadening instructions regarding the justifiable uses of deadly and non-deadly force.

jt.rushingjacksonville.com, (850) 224-7515, extension 11


Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:03:41 AM EDT
I wonder what kind of cheese they want to go with that whine?
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:09:27 AM EDT
I think it's nice to be gaining ground for a change.

Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:14:31 AM EDT
Go Florida go!
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:15:34 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:15:38 AM EDT
Whose side are they on, anyway?

Oh well...just keep it up with that "us vs. them" mentality.

Scott
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:16:08 AM EDT

Whiney assed, my pussy hurts, goddam SOB........................
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:29:18 AM EDT
Fuckem !!!
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:31:51 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Bullitt3401:
Whose side are they on, anyway?

Oh well...just keep it up with that "us vs. them" mentality.

Scott



I can assure you that it is not a LEO majority that feels that way... And yes, I'm a LEO in FL.
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:34:41 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/1/2005 9:40:12 AM EDT by FLGreg]
So, let me get this straight. A guy that wasn't initially charged because the investigators found he had acted in self-defense is now sitting in jail because he had a copy of the LAW on his computer?

All this new law does is codify what case law already has established: That a person has a right to protect themselves from deadly force if they are in a place they have a legal right to be in. It doesn't change anything else.

Florida law justifies use of deadly force when you are:

trying to protect yourself or another person from death or serious bodily harm;
trying to prevent a forcible felony, such as rape, robbery, burglary or kidnapping.

The best part of this new law that no one has talked about is now some scumbag’s family cannot come after you civilly for ending their worthless relative’s pathetic existence as he tried to forcefully rape your wife (If I read the law correctly). FL Bar members chime in on this one:


776.032, F.S.; providing immunity
from criminal prosecution or civil action for using deadly force; defining
the term “criminal prosecution”; authorizing a law enforcement
agency to investigate the use of deadly force but prohibiting
the agency from arresting the person unless the agency determines
that there is probable cause that the force the person used was
unlawful; providing for the award of attorney’s fees, court costs,
compensation for loss of income, and other expenses to a defendant
in a civil suit who was immune from prosecution under this section…


Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:34:54 AM EDT
God help them, they might actually have to do some investigating after a shooting. I absolutely cannot see the logic of his argument against this law.
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:35:23 AM EDT
Tell the asshole who is crying like a schoolgirl with a scrapped knee that police in Florida can now no longer shoot suspects without first getting a second opinion. Because some of them are incapable of even tying their shoes and can't demonstrate they are capable of making decisions on their own.
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:37:23 AM EDT
Funny. The courts say the fuzz cannot be held liable for not protecting us, even when danger is known, but the fuzz doesn't want us to protect ourselves either.
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:40:17 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:45:45 AM EDT
People are going to have to learn that an armed society must be a polite society.
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:49:47 AM EDT
It isn't the police's fucking place to be upset over this law. It's their job to enforce it.
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 9:53:17 AM EDT
You know every time a new law on guns comes out, I download something and study it. That's just smart gun ownership.

By this dumbfuck's opinion, if I'm forced to shoot an attacker I'm all of a sudden premediating?

Link Posted: 10/1/2005 10:00:13 AM EDT

Police Asshat politician Sheriffs and police Chiefs upset over "castle doctrine" in Florida




Fixed it for ya.
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 10:17:29 AM EDT

Originally Posted By napalm:

Police Asshat politician Sheriffs and police Chiefs upset over "castle doctrine" in Florida




Fixed it for ya.


Yeah, because Police would NEVER do anything anti-gun...
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 10:23:53 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 10:24:14 AM EDT
Seems to me if the police were perhaps more effective this law wouldn't have gotten the popular support it needed to pass.
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 10:34:51 AM EDT
The only people that should be worried are the perps.
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 11:19:15 AM EDT

Originally Posted By p331083:

Originally Posted By napalm:

Police Asshat politician Sheriffs and police Chiefs upset over "castle doctrine" in Florida




Fixed it for ya.


Yeah, because Police would NEVER do anything anti-gun...




Not what I said.



Most of these statements you hear about "police don't like this, police don't like that" are actually statements from asshat police Chiefs who are nothing more than scum-sucking politicians in uniform.

The line cops I've known have all been stand-up guys, with the exception of one kook.
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 11:22:02 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Observer:
I think it's nice to be gaining ground for a change.



That's the attitude! We should all think this way. The more they complain, the better we are doing!

G
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 11:22:09 AM EDT

The "deadly force" law appends a traditional clause allowing Floridians to use force against a perceived deadly threat and removes a traditional clause silly sheeple law that required them to retreat first before doing so.



Fixed it for 'em.
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 11:23:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By david_g17:
The new law actually doesn't protect someone if premeditation is involved, but the Steeby case is the perfect example of widespread worry across Florida's law enforcement community about what this could bring.




Like what? A couple cases that arent slam-dunkers?
Link Posted: 10/1/2005 4:24:56 PM EDT
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