Okay, first I want to say that this is 100%, totally and entirely unrelated to another recent high profile case in the State of Florida. Not even
remotely...since the law wasn't an issue in that other instance, which isn't related to this one.
Now then, on to the story. Who would have thought it? Stand Your Ground is generally a law thought of in relation to the use of deadly force and/or
serious injury to an attacker, criminal or other legitimate threat to one's own life. At least, that is the general association. It seems there is
more to this law than one might have first thought about.
(CN) - Florida's "stand your ground" law may protect a middle schooler in his delinquency hearing over a fight with a girl on the bus, a state
appeals court ruled.
As explained by the school bus driver, a boy named T.P. had been trying to get off at his stop one afternoon when a girl named A.F. grabbed the
The girl was larger than T.P., and the students began to fight. She pulled T.P. down on the seat and punched him, the driver said. As T.P. fought
back, his grandmother and mother who were waiting at the stop boarded the bus to break up the fight.
The grandmother struck the girl and T.P. got off the bus. Police then arrested T.P.
Pretty straight forward, it would seem. Girl grabs boy, punches boy, fight ensues. She started it. She ought to get tagged on it. Especially being
bigger, right? Well, that isn't how it went at first here. The police arrested the boy and they stuck to that, pushing it into formal charges.
The story continues to describe the girl here giving different stories of what happened in official accounts, prompting the boy's attorney to move
for dismissal. The basis of the dismissal is what is the point of the story.
T.P. moved to dismiss the charges based on the "stand your ground" law, but a juvenile delinquency judge in Broward County found that the law
applied only to the defense of home or vehicle, not on a bus.
T.P.'s bus driver never testified at his trial on the merits, and the court found him guilty of battery.
Now, in most cases? It would end there. People rarely push matters by lack of money, lack of knowledge that they have that right, lack of a qualified
or trusted attorney or a combination of the three. In this case, he wasn't going to stand for a battery conviction based on a clear defense situation
he was attacked in. They rolled the dice and push up the Court ladder.
A three-judge panel of Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeals reversed last week, finding that "T.P. had the right to assert a defense under
This section of the state's "stand your ground" law provides: "A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any
other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including
deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to
prevent the commission of a forcible felony."
Here, T.P. "was not engaged in an unlawful activity, and he had the right to be on the bus going home from school," Judge Martha Warner wrote
for the court. "He had no duty to retreat and, despite the trial court's misgivings, had the right to 'meet force with force' if he reasonably
believed that such force was necessary to prevent great bodily harm to himself.
Their finding concluded that the trial court must decide the case based on the elements required to fulfill the Stand Your Ground law as a defense to
the charge, including whether the force he used was necessary to defend himself, in the belief that he was in danger of bodily harm. These are the
elements which had been ignored by the defense itself being thrown out as viable by the Trial court the first time.
So, at least in this case, it's established at the appeals level of the court system that Stand Your Ground does apply outside of just a home or
personal vehicle and does apply to a Middle School Child in an allegedly unprovoked fight he was required to defend himself.
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I believe this is a very important development, as my own Son has been disciplined at school under their policy of automatically assigning blame to
both as mutual combatants if one defends themselves against an attack. Who started it makes a difference in severity, but not the fact that both are
getting something. In his current level of school, an actual charge would be possible.
It's interesting to note that while this decision doesn't apply directly to Missouri? Our law is very similarly written to Florida. It may be an
interesting defense to see used elsewhere as parents get tired of seeing their kids take suspensions or criminal charges for being a victim, defending