TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A change made to Florida’s controversial stand your ground law in 2017 is not retroactive, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The 2005 law allows people to “meet force with force” rather than retreat if they feel they are facing a reasonable threat. Defendants would then have to prove in a hearing they were entitled to immunity.
However, in 2017, the burden of proof was switched and placed on prosecutors.
Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling means defendants whose cases were pending during the switch will not be entitled to a new hearing.
That includes Curtis Reeves, the retired Tampa police captain who shot and killed Chad Oulson in a Wesley Chapel movie theater in January 2014. Reeves claimed he was in fear for his life during an argument over texting.
The trial has been on hold because the judge has been waiting for the Florida Supreme Court to review the stand your ground law.
An attorney representing Oulson’s wife said in 2018 the trial is long overdue. That attorney released a new statement after Thursday’s ruling, calling it a “happy day” for his client.
“As you are aware Mr. Reeves claimed a stand your ground defense. The motion was heard and denied by the court over a year ago. However, we have been locked in a standstill because of the change of the stand your ground law in Florida,” T.J. Grimaldi said in a statement. “The Florida Supreme Court stated that the changes are not retroactive and that a new hearing does not need to take place. My client and I are hoping to finally secure closure in this case after all of these years.”