Florida set to change burden of proof in ‘stand your ground’

Members of the House of Representatives rise for prayer at the opening of a special session Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Legislators are meeting for a rare summer one-week special session, to redraw the boundary lines of two congressional districts ruled unconstitutional last month. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – The Legislature passed a bill that would make Florida the state the first to place the burden of proof in “stand your ground” pretrial hearings on the prosecution rather than the defendant.

The Senate passed the bill Friday on a 22-14 vote, just hours before it would have died on the last day lawmakers considered non-budget related bills.

The Senate had earlier refused to consider changes the House made to the bill, then accepted them when the House stood its ground on its position.

The Senate bill originally said prosecutors have to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a defendant wasn’t acting in self-defense. The House changed that language to the lower threshold of presenting “clear and convincing evidence.”

Defendants now have to prove they were acting in self-defense to avoid a trial.

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