Can a Felon Use “Stand Your Ground”?
Should a convicted felon have the right to stand his ground?
The Florida Supreme Court is set to decide whether convicted felons have the right to “stand your ground” under Florida law. In Florida, felons aren’t legally allowed to possess firearms. So if a felon uses a firearm in his own defense under “stand your ground”, does he still have the same protection a non-felon does under the law? Part of the “stand your ground law” says the following:
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.
Technically a felon being in possession of a firearm can be construed as engaging in unlawful activity, which would exempt felons using firearms from the law’s protection. Right now two of the five appellate courts are split on the issue, with the Fourth DCA holding that felons aren’t entitled to claim “stand your ground”. The Second DCA held that because the “stand your ground” law is written in separate sections, with the “not engaged in an unlawful activity” portion being in another section, a felon can claim immunity under a separate portion of the law.
What will be interesting to see is whether the Florida Supreme Court sides with the Second DCA or the Fourth. The Second DCA’s opinion is more well-reasoned, and actually parses the “stand your ground” statutes quite well, so it’s my guess that the Florida Supreme Court will ultimately say that felons will be able to stand their ground.