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Burden Of Proof Changing In State's "Stand Your Ground" Law

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) - A change is coming to Florida's "stand your ground" self-defense law.

The self-defense bill introduced in the last state legislative session stemmed from a Florida Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that said defendants have the burden of proof to show they should be shielded from prosecution under the "stand your ground" law.

In "stand your ground" cases, pre-trial evidentiary hearings are held to determine whether defendants should be immune from prosecution.

The bill which was approved, and signed by Gov. Rick Scott late last week, shifts the burden of proof from defendants to prosecutors in the pre-trial hearings.

Supporters of the bill, such as National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, said shifting the burden of proof would better protect the rights of defendants.

"The `burden of proof' bill restores the presumption of innocence in self-defense cases," Hammer told The News Service of Florida this week. "It puts the burden of proof back on the state, where it belongs."

Labeled by Democrats as "a shoot to kill" bill, critics argue that the change could lead to cases ending before all the facts are revealed and that the bill would increase costs for state attorney's offices.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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