Florida Is About To Make Murder Legal – Yes, Really

Soon, if you live in Florida, it will become very difficult to prosecute for murder.

Florida’s loose murder laws became national headlines with the death of Trayvon Martin, in which a 17-year-old African-American boy was caught in the act of walking at night. George Zimmerman, who was nothing more than a self-appointed neighborhood watch officer, killed Zimmerman in 2012. After more than a year of right-wing media thoroughly trashing the victim, Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder. A Zimmerman of today would find it even easier, assuming the bill passes.

If the measure becomes law, the state would again be at the forefront of expanding self-defense laws. Florida would become the first state to apply a tougher standard to the law during the pretrial hearing. Under the measure, the burden of proof would be shifted to prosecutors and defendants would no longer have to present evidence, typically by taking the stand, to prove their claim of self-defense.

Instead, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt — the highest legal standard — that the use of force was not justified. …

Prosecutors have fiercely opposed the measure, saying it runs counter to the traditional workings of the criminal justice system. Typically, when defendants seek the dismissal of charges at a hearing — arguing entrapment, for example — it is up to them to present evidence and persuade the court, not the other way around.

The new standard would require prosecutors to essentially put on a nonjury mini-trial, requiring victims and witnesses to testify twice and delaying the actual trial, prosecutors said. And with defendants no longer required to offer evidence — which usually means taking the stand — there will be little, if any downside, for them to claim a Stand Your Ground defense.

Source: New York Times

Current Stand Your Ground laws make already make it easy to get away with murder, if you’re white. In states with Stand Your Ground laws, there has been an eight percent increase in murder and in non-negligent manslaughter. In other words, more people are dying and more people are getting away with it.

Getting away with murder isn’t for everyone, though. According to studies, “whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings. In non-Stand Your Ground states, whites are 250 percent more likely to be found justified in killing a black person than a white person who kills another white person; in Stand Your Ground states, that number jumps to 354 percent.”

This proposed Florida law would only make things worse. When the burden of proof lies entirely with the dead guy in murder cases, it’s difficult enough to prove, but when you add to the fact that the victim is black, well, you know how things will turn out. As they say, dead men tell no tales. To far too many, though, a dead black man has the presumption of guilt.

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