Many people are familiar with the Florida Stand Your Ground Law due to the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin trial. Leading up to the trial, this Florida self-defense law was a controversial subject. Some people were proponents of the law and the protection of Florida’s gun laws. Other people believed that the law gave permission for one person to shoot another person at anytime in the name of self-defense.
With the national media focused on the Zimmerman trial, little attention was given to other cases in Florida. There are two cases in particular that I am referring to. Both cases took place in Duval County FL. Both defendants claimed that they acted in self-defense when discharging their firearms.
Michael Dunn’s Jacksonville Gas Station Murder Case
Michael Dunn has been charged with first-degree murder in Duval County for killing Jordan Davis. Davis and three other teenagers were in a vehicle at a Gate gas station when Dunn opened fire on the vehicle. Dunn is claiming that he believed the teenager had a gun, but a gun was not found on the scene or in the vehicle. He is claiming that he acted under the Stand Your Ground Law. Read Southside Jacksonville Florida Shooting Murder Charges for a more detailed summary of the case. Dunn’s jury trial has been continued. His next court date is October 9 in Duval County.
Marissa Alexander’s Jacksonville Aggravated Assault with a Firearm Case
“Marissa Alexander, the 31-year-old Florida woman who fired what her family calls a warning shot at her abusive husband, was sentenced Friday morning to 20 years in prison. Alexander was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing into a wall near her husband and his two young children at their Jacksonville home in 2010. Alexander has maintained that she wasn’t trying to hurt anyone and that she was standing her ground against a man who had over the course of nearly a year punched and choked her on several different occasions. Alexander says that she believed she was protected that day under the state’s Stand Your Ground Law, which gives people wide discretion in using deadly force to defend themselves. A judge and a jury disagreed. The State Attorney’s Office offered a plea bargain that would have sent Alexander to prison for three years, but she rejected it, hoping to convince a jury that she had been defending herself when she fired the weapon.”
Alexander filed an appeal to the Florida First District Court of Appeals in Florida. She set forth several grounds as reasons for a new trial. Now, the appeals court has order a new trial. The 1st DCA “ruled that a judge did not properly instruct the jury handling the case of Marissa Alexander.” Therefore, she is entitled to a new jury trial. The appellate court did not stop after this ruling. Instead, they address the issue of her ability to defend herself using the Stand Your Ground Law. The court stated, “the judge was right to block Alexander from using the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law as a way to defend her actions.” (Jacksonville.com)
Read Jacksonville Criminal Attorneys Perspective of 10-20-Life Statute for the sentencing laws applicable to Alexander’s case.
Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers will be paying close attention to both of these cases. Jacksonville criminal lawyers are interested in 1st DCA court rulings, because it creates case law. The appellate court’s ruling in the Alexander case will affect lower courts decisions in future Stand Your Ground cases. In turn, this will affect the way a Jacksonville attorney defends a case.