Trying to keep track with the comings and goins about guns, I have several terms on my Google Alerts, one being “Stand Your Ground. This one was on my last list:
So I click on the link and I found this instead:
The URL still contains the original “local stand your ground conviction overturned” so, What the hell happened? It turns out to be that the conviction was overturned because bad jury instructions.
One instruction said that if Helton was not engaged in illegal activity and was attacked in a place he had a right to be, “he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.
However, another instruction read to the jury said deadly force was only justifiable if Helton believed “he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and had exhausted every reasonable means to escape the danger, other than using deadly force.”The appellate court ruled that the conflicting instructions about Helton’s duty to retreat constituted a fundamental court error and ordered that Helton receive a new trial for the aggravated assault charge.
The jury instructions mention Stand Your Ground, but they are standard for all cases where Deadly Force is used….even if they do not apply to a case. But since the words are there, there is this Pavlovian reaction to somehow find fault with them instead of whatever went wrong in the case.
Now, is there a case in where wording “he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and had exhausted every reasonable means to escape the danger, other than using deadly force” is used? Yes, when the defendant initially provoked the use of force against himself and:
The force asserted toward the defendant was so great that [he] [she] reasonably believed that [he] [she] was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and had exhausted every reasonable means to escape the danger, other than using deadly force.
The Jury Instructions were revised and published back in May of 2006 by the Florida Supreme Court and it seems that some judges have not gotten the memo yet. This and the apparent need by the media to demonize every single mention of Stand Your Ground keeps giving us these Jewels of Fair Journalism.