Florida Supreme Court May Weight in On Stand Your Ground Law
A West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney wants the Florida Supreme Court to resolve a conflict over the right of felons to seek immunity under the Stand Your Ground law.
In 2012, Brian Bragdon was leaving a nightclub after being attacked inside by two men. As Bragdon left, he overheard the men discussing arming themselves.
Moments later, the two men banged on the car occupied by Bragdon’s party as they tried to leave the parking lot. Believing the men were armed, Bragdon grabbed a gun in the car and fired. He struck one of the men, who survived.
Bragdon sought immunity from an attempted murder charge filed by the Palm Beach State Attorney’s office.
Circuit Judge Charles Burton granted the state’s motion to strike the immunity request since it was illegal for Bragdon, a convicted felon, to have a firearm.
On appeal, the Fourth District Court of Appeal denied Bragdon’s petition because the court ruled in a 2012 case that a felon couldn’t get immunity if he was committing a crime while claiming self-defense.
However, the Fourth District also certified Oct. 9 that its position conflicted with the Second District.
The Second District allowed the defense in the case of Aaron Little, a felon in a Lee County case who killed Demond Brooks, after Brooks raised two handguns at him.
“Little sought immunity based on the use of force as permitted in section 776.012, (Stand Your Ground). His status as a felon in illegal possession of a firearm did not preclude that claim of immunity”, the court said.
The Second District also certified in that opinion that it was in conflict with the initial Fourth District case.
Bragdon’s attorney, Jack Fleischman of Fleischman & Fleischman, said this is an issue that needs to be decided.
“You can’t have part of the state saying a convicted felon can take advantage of this statute and another saying they can’t”, he said.
If the high court refuses to hear Bragdon’s case, he will still be able to claim self-defense in trial, Fleischman said, but it will be up to a jury to decide if the shooting was justified.