Tonney McCants, a 22-year-old convicted burglar with nearly a dozen arrests on his record, has now been cleared in a Sanford manslaughter case because of Florida’s “stand your ground” law.On Jan. 20, Marquis Grooms, the one-time sweetheart of McCants’ girlfriend, broke into her Sanford apartment and began beating her, according to a police report.She was bleeding from the head.McCants grabbed his 9mm handgun and shot the man 13 times, according to the report. Grooms died at the scene, killed by a bullet that tore open his aorta…
…They booked him into the Seminole County Jail on a charge of manslaughter.Five weeks later, after evaluating evidence, the State Attorney’s Office formally dropped the charge and closed the case, declaring that McCants had a valid “stand your ground” defense.
“This is a case of justifiable use of force,” wrote Assistant State Attorney Dan Faggard. “Grooms had unlawfully entered the home … and McCants had the right … to stand his ground.”
We have seen similar cases pop up now and then. What still mystifies me is that some people take affront at the fact that a felon confronted with a deadly force situation by no fault of his own, would had the nerve to defend himself as if serving prison time automatically nullifies that right.
McCants spent two nights. Seminole County Judge John Woodard reviewed the evidence and ordered his release on Jan. 23, saying he could find no probable cause that McCants had committed a crime.
In a prepared statement, Sanford police Chief Cecil Smith said it was unfortunate that the case is now closed. He said his agency had provided sufficient probable cause.
“But he is a felon! He broke the law by using a gun! He cannot have a gun! He should be charged!” And in the strict sense of the law, that one part of not legally allowed to even touch the gun is right, but this is a case where not doing so would have allowed a bigger crime to happen.
Defense of Necessity:
A defense that permits a person to act in a criminal manner when an emergency situation, not of the person’s own creation compels the person to act in a criminal manner to avoid greater harm from occurring.
Robert the K from Suburban Sheepdog was kind enough to explain it in Crayola terms:
De duobus malis, minus est semper eligendum.
Of two evils, one should always choose the lesser.
In criminal law it is the defense of “necessity.”
Necessity induces a privilege.
My wife is in labor and if I cross your land I can get her to the hospital an hour faster than if I go around. Yes, I trespassed, but necessitas inducit privilegium, so my trespass will be forgiven. It is an “affirmative defense” — I have the burden of demonstrating it.
IANAL: From what little I have read (A little knowledge is a dangerous thing) there cannot be or shouldn’t be (for lack of a better word) premeditation: I am a felon, I hang with bad people so I am gonna get me a gun to defend myself if they attack me and I am covered by Defense of Necessity. Nope, does not work that way apparently and if you want an example on how that can backfire, I will remind you of Bernard Goetz who wasn’t even a felon. For the Defense of Necessity to be valid, the element of imminence must be present; the crap is about to hit the fan and you have to do something or die or let some other innocent person be gravely injured die.
OK, bad explanation aside, we must remember that self-defense is a human right and people should not have to have it curtailed because of past actions. However those actions do carry consequences and one of it is that a felon is not allowed to own and carry the best tool for that job: You paid your monies, you took your chances and you lost. Deal with it.
And yes, I still support the restoration of Second Amendment Rights for non-violent felons who have paid in full their debt with society. That an 18-year-old got convicted as felon just because he wanted to buy a keg of beer with a fake ID and he may never be able to own a gun? Stupid.