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Florida law shifts burden of proof in 'stand your ground'

Associated Press logoAssociated Press 6/9/2017
Gov. Rick Scott speaks to legislators at the end of the special session, Friday, June 9, 2017, in Tallahassee, Fla. © AP Photo/Steve Cannon Gov. Rick Scott speaks to legislators at the end of the special session, Friday, June 9, 2017, in Tallahassee, Fla.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida is now the first state with a law that spells out that prosecutors, and not defendants, have the burden of proof in pretrial "stand your ground" hearings.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday that will force prosecutors to prove during a pretrial hearing that defendants weren't acting in self-defense when they committed an act of violence. The law took effect as soon as Scott signed it.

Before Friday, the burden of proof in pretrial hearings was on defendants. The Florida Supreme Court issued a ruling in 2015 that made that clear. Republican lawmakers responded to the ruling by pushing the bill Scott signed.

Only four of the other 21 state "stand your ground" laws mention burden of proof — Alabama, Colorado, Georgia and South Carolina — and all place it on defendants.

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