Skip to main content

Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

No 'Stand Your Ground' Hearing for Fla. 'Warning Shot' Defendant

By Brett Snider, Esq. on July 23, 2014 7:01 AM

A Florida woman who fired a warning shot at her abusive husband will not receive a pretrial "Stand Your Ground" hearing in her assault case, a judge has ruled.

Marissa Alexander, 33, was hoping the judge would take into account Florida's new law extending "Stand Your Ground" to warning shots in granting her a pretrial self-defense hearing. Reuters reports that Alexander, whose original conviction in 2012 was overturned on appeal, had her claim of self-defense rejected during her first trial as well.

With Florida's new law in place, why is Alexander being denied a pretrial "Stand Your Ground" hearing?

Know someone who has been arrested or charged with a crime? Get in touch with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in your area today.

Original Self-Defense Hearing

Alexander had a self-defense hearing for her original trial in this "warning shot" case, but a Florida judge ruled against her claim that she'd acted in self-defense. As The Florida Times-Union reports, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt ruled in 2011 that Alexander acted inconsistently with someone in "genuine fear of his or her life" -- perhaps because she allegedly retreated to her car to retrieve her gun before firing the warning shot.

It seems likely that when Alexander was granted a retrial in her case that she would be eligible to revisit the issue of self-defense.

New Hearing Would Take New Laws Into Account

Alexander's legal team had hoped to delay her request for a new "Stand Your Ground" hearing until after Florida's new law was passed. With Gov. Rick Scott signing a law in late June clarifying that "Stand Your Ground" principles encompassed warning shots, it seemed that Alexander was likely to prevail in a self-defense hearing this time around.

However, Circuit Judge James Daniel had indicated before that he was "reluctant to have a second Stand Your Ground hearing" earlier this year, reports the Times-Union. Judge Daniel claimed it would strike poor precedent and "bring the administration of justice to a grinding halt" to grant a second "Stand Your Ground" hearing -- which is likely why he denied such a hearing for Alexander on Friday.

Self-Defense Evidence Can Still Be Presented

Still, just because Alexander won't get a "Stand Your Ground" hearing doesn't mean she'll be prevented from presenting self-defense evidence to a trial jury. You may recall that George Zimmerman, whose trial on murder charges sparked debate over "Stand Your Ground" laws, chose to forgo a pretrial "Stand Your Ground" hearing and was still acquitted by a jury.

According to Reuters, Alexander's retrial isn't scheduled until December, giving her legal team time to examine Judge Daniel's ruling and prepare a strategy.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options