Opinion

Appeals court rules ‘stand your ground’ applies in school bus fight

A Florida appeals court overturned the conviction of a juvenile Wednesday who, it ruled, should have been allowed to use the “stand your ground” law in his defense.

Broward County Circuit Judge Elijah Williams convicted a middle school boy who fought with a girl on the school bus of battery, but wouldn’t allow the “stand your ground” defense because the incident took place on the bus, not in a home or vehicle, the Sun Sentinel reported.

But Fourth District Court of Appeals Judge Martha Warner ruled that the boy, identified only as T.P., “had the right” to be on the bus, and the right to stand his ground if warranted, and cited testimony from the bus driver who said the girl, identified as A.F., “grabbed the boy’s jacket, punched him and pulled him down on a seat before the boy fought back,” the article said.

CBS Miami reported a portion of Warner’s ruling:

“In this case, T.P. had the right to assert a defense under (the stand-your-ground law),” the opinion said. ”He was not engaged in an unlawful activity, and he had the right to be on the bus going home from school. 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.”

In fact, it (the law) is extremely broad in its grant of the right of a person to protect himself or herself in any situation where the person is not engaged in an unlawful activity and is in a place where the person is entitled to be,” the opinion said. “Although the trial court’s misgivings of applying it to a fight on a school bus may be well taken, it is not the place of the trial court, or this court, to refuse to apply the plain meaning of the statute.”

stand your ground map
Photo Credit: CBS News 2012

Warner sent the case back to the lower court judge who now must determine who instigated the fight, and if the boy acted in self-defense.

According to Florida Statute, the “stand your ground” law reads:

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.

More from CBS Miami.

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