Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stand Your Ground Puts Police in Fear of Lawsuits

The real problem with Florida's Stand Your Ground self-defense law may be that it gives killers the right to sue police departments.

776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.

(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term "criminal prosecution" includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

(3) The court shall award reasonable attorney's fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).
That section (3) is quite the trial lawyer's dream. If I'm standing over a dead body when police arrive and mutter the magic words "self-defense," the mere act of detaining me or taking me down to the police station could subject the police department to civil liability. The hassle and inconvenience of having to face trial and defend my actions could be my payday.

Let's say I'm the victim not the killer. If Florida thinks so little of my right to life that my killer can't even be detained or arrested, why would I ever want to go to Disney World?

No comments: