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Can Felons, Barred From Carrying Weapons, Still Claim Stand Your Ground? Court Will Decide.

| July 3, 2014

It's come to that.

It’s come to that.

The Florida Supreme Court will consider whether convicted felons have the right to claim immunity under the state’s controversial “stand your ground” self-defense law, even if they are barred from possessing guns in the first place.

Justices agreed Wednesday to hear the case of Brian Bragdon, who was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, discharging a firearm from a vehicle and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to a document in the case.

Bragdon argued that he fired the gun while trying to defend himself and sought to get the charges dismissed under “stand your ground.” But a circuit judge ruled that Bragdon was prevented from seeking immunity because he was a convicted felon in possession of a firearm at the time of the shooting, and the 4th District Court of Appeal also ruled against him.

The appeals court based its decision on its own 2012 ruling in the case of Harvey Hill, a felon who shot a man during a confrontation over a woman and then claimed he did so in self defense. The court ruled that he couldn’t do so under “stand your ground.”

“Here, the defendant used the very instrumentality that he was not lawfully allowed to possess to injure his alleged assailant,” the court ruled in the Hill case.

But between Hill and Bragdon, the 2nd District Court of Appeal found in another case that there was at least one section of the “stand your ground” law that could apply even to felons. The court was considering the case of Aaron Little, who shot another man in a confrontation.

“His status as a felon in illegal possession of a firearm did not preclude that claim of immunity,” the 2nd DCA ruled. “And, as set forth above, Little established by a preponderance of the evidence that his use of force was justified to prevent his imminent death or great bodily harm as provided for in” the law.

The 2nd DCA said it wasn’t sure whether the decisions in the Little and Hill cases were in conflict — something that makes the Florida Supreme Court more likely to intervene. But in its ruling on Bragdon, the 4th DCA said there was a conflict with the Little ruling. Bragdon asked the justices to hear the case based on that conflict, and lawyers for the state agreed.

The “stand your ground” law says people can use deadly force and do not have a duty to retreat if they think it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. The law offers criminal and civil immunity in such cases.

It’s not clear when the Supreme Court might rule. The order issued Wednesday sets out a schedule for attorneys in the case to file briefs but said the court would set a time for oral arguments later.

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

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19 Responses for “Can Felons, Barred From Carrying Weapons, Still Claim Stand Your Ground? Court Will Decide.”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Felons have constitution rights. The liberals give illegal allens constitutional rights so a genuine America, even if a felon, has their rights.

  2. Gia says:

    No he cannot. A convict is a convict period.


    Interesting conundrum. You are not entitled to benefit from committing a crime — collecting insurance on your wife after you kill her for instance — but you also have an absolute right to defend yourself.

    But if you commit a crime by possessing the weapon — are you entitled to use it to defend yourself?

    My take is the self-defense takes precedence and you can’t be charged for the killing, but you can be charged for having the weapon and possibly an additional charge for using an illegal weapon.

  4. jadobi says:

    Immune, sure… but the charges of possessing the weapon should still stand.

  5. ⓖⓔⓔⓩⓔⓡ says:

    If you’re a convict (USA has the highest ratio of incarcerations in the universe)
    and you illegally own a “pop-a-shot” – I can see you defending yourself from someone
    breaking into your dwelling. However, expect to go back to jail because that confluence
    of events (unfair and all) will land you back in a fine Florida prison.

    SYG as you shake somebody down or try to carjack them? NO. That’s ridiculous.
    But nothing’s too ridiculous for Florida.

    To address the unfortunately numb comment above: “The liberals give illegal allens constitutional rights”
    I see, if your name is “Allen” you forfeit your constitutional civil rights? Maybe we can screw over the “Alans”
    of the world too.

    I know some good “Allens.” (and “Alans”)
    I take great umbrage with your statement Anonymous.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Once a person has served their time, paid their debt to society, then they most definitely should have the right to defend themselves and their family to prevent their death or great bodily harm. What would society expect a (for example) man to do, simply sit and watch his wife and child be killed and not fight/injure/shoot the perpetrator because he has a former conviction? There should be some uncommon sense used in this ruling. Think for a second that YOU yourself are a convicted felon, have served your time and are out of prison. You are driving your 9 year old daughter to ballet class. A man jumps into your back seat at a stop light and it is clear to you that he is going to harm your daughter, and you. I know exactly what I would do. You do not stop being human because you have a past.

  7. ted bundy says:

    NO..they are not allowed to have weapons for a reason..

  8. A.S.F. says:

    The Second Amendment does not exempt anyone from the consequences of their actions. If you have committed a crime and have your right to own a firearm revoked as a result of those actions, then those are the consequences you pay for having committed a crime. It’s truly astounding to hear the staunch “law and order” Conservative element, who are so quick to shout “lock em’ up, give em’ bread and water and throw away the key” sniffle over the same people’s rights to own a gun being taken away. You do the crime, you lose the right to aggress against others in society–which includes having your free ticket to gun ownership being taken away. MY recommendation: Think about it BEFORE you do the crime.

  9. Sherry Epley says:

    Right On ASF! It is amazing how conservatives want to have it both ways. It’s as if the whole “you’ll take my guns from my cold dead hands” obsession supersedes all reason and logic.

    Let’s think this through. . . if the felony conviction was for a non-violent white collar crime like embezzlement, perhaps the right to own/use a gun is much more acceptable. However, allowing a convicted criminal who has committed a violent crime with a weapon, to legally possess and use a gun is akin to lunacy. Why aren’t we hearing the howling about how he should have never been allowed out of prison to begin with?

  10. Geezer from his trusty iPad says:

    Felons should arm themselves with a boombox playing loud Anita Baker songs.
    That’s a lethal weapon that isn’t regulated, so it’s legal to own even if you
    spent some time in the can and can stamp out a mean license plate.

    Heaven help you if one’s aimed at you.

    Stand your ground!

  11. dev says:

    Not all felonies are created equally. Yes, they should be able to have the same constitutional rights as other civilians. Most, anyway. They should also be able to vote. Most of them. We certainly need a criminal justice overhaul. Standing one’s ground also needs to be re-evaluated. The law could be solid, but there are certainly holes in it.

    And so here were are to discuss felons using SYG. Why? Because we need to rethink the law. We SHOULD be able to stand our ground, but we shouldn’t be able to kill on a whim.

  12. karma says:

    As long as they can vote, does anything else really matter?

    • Nancy N. says:

      Convicted felons can’t vote. At least not in Florida. In Florida, once convicted of a felony, your voting rights are permanently terminated until reinstated by the Governor’s Clemency Board. You can’t even apply until after a lengthy waiting period (which varies depending on the type of offense), and then there is AT LEAST a ten year backlog in applications to the board before your application will even be considered. This equates to about a minimum of 20 years before a felon can get their voting rights back in this state after completing their sentence.

      Compare this to other states where for most offenses, rights are automatically reinstated the moment a person completes their sentence. This state is living in the dark ages.

  13. A.S.F. says:

    I wonder how many gang members will legitimately be able to use the “Stand Your Ground” defense? After all, they probably DO have more reason than most to “Stand Your Ground.” However, that might have something to do with their chosen lifestyle. But. by all means, let’s give people who are more likely to fight each other with deadly force another defense to use in court. Who cares if their stray bullets hit innocent bystanders as a result of their right to “Stand Your Ground?”

    • Nancy N. says:

      Stand Your Ground would not apply if someone was killed in the process of a crime (ie taking part in a criminal conspiracy). That would be felony murder since the death occurred during the course of another crime.

  14. A.S.F. says:

    “But, ma’am..I wasn’t doing nothing. I was just standing here on the corner when this dude came up and said he didn’t like my tattoo.”

  15. Anonymous says:

    There are quite a variety of extremely different actions, some violent some not violent in the least, classified as “felony”. Neither “felony” nor “convicted felon” are one-size fits all labels.

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