Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Now On Trial
We’ve previously discussed the requirements that go along with Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, which effectively allows a person to be immune from criminal prosecution if they take lethal action against someone if the reasonably felt that it was necessary to prevent “great bodily harm” or “imminent death.” However, the trial of the notorious shooter who shot a man to death in a Florida convenience store parking lot last year—jury selection for which commenced in late August—could completely change the interpretation of this “self-defense” law, as we discuss below.
The incident involved a shooter, Michael Drejka, who had a concealed-carry permit and reportedly got into a verbal altercation with a woman parked in a handicapped parking space. At that time, the woman’s boyfriend (Michael McGlockton) reportedly came out of the store and pushed Drejka, who proceeded to shoot McGlockton; allegedly as he was walking away. Initially, the Pinellas County sheriff declined to arrest Drejka, indicating that he had legally relied on the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law. However, the State Attorney General eventually decided to charge Drejka with manslaughter, indicating that Drejka did not “reasonably” believe that his life was in danger when he shot McGlockton.
Similarities to George Zimmerman Case
The law has come under scrutiny before, especially in connection with the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, and the two cases now share some commonalities: Drejka—like Zimmerman—has opted to go straight to trial and leave it up to the jury to decide whether he lawfully acted in self-defense rather than first go through pretrial, and Zimmerman was eventually acquitted by the jury.
However, a number of parties came out to express their belief that this particular incident involving Drejka and McGlockton was not a viable use of Florida’s self-defense law, including GOP lawmakers and even the National Rifle Association. A number of circumstances will likely affect the jury’s decision in this case, including not only that video surveillance and witness reports indicate that McGlockton was walking away when Drejka shot him, but that Drejka evidently got into a similar altercation in that same parking lot several days earlier, and threatened to shoot someone over it. Even though Florida’s law does not include a duty to retreat, it is simply not enough that a shooter is afraid; they must objectively rely on the reasonable-person standard in relying on the defense.
Contact Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorney with Any Questions
If you have been charged with a crime and were acting out of self-defense because you were being attacked and reasonably feared for your life, contact our West Palm Beach criminal attorney at the office of William Wallshein, P.A. today to find out how we can help.