Appeals Court Rules that Florida's Stand Your Ground Law Applies in School Bus Brawl

| by Dabney Bailey
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It turns out that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law doesn’t only apply to lethal shooting incidents. A Florida appeals court has ruled that the SYG defense also applies in a recent school bus brawl between juveniles.

A Broward County circuit court judge ruled that the juvenile in the case could not use the SYG law in order to get the battery charge dismissed. The 4th District Court of Appeals disagreed, overturning the lower judge’s ruling.

The appeals court stated that the juvenile, who has been identified with the initials T.P., “had the right to assert a defense under (the stand-your-ground law).” The opinion reads, “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.”

Indeed, the opinion nearly quotes verbatim the text from Florida’s SYG law.

According to an eyewitness account by a school bus driver, a girl by the initials A.F. grabbed T.P. as he was exiting the bus, pulled him back on, and began beating him. T.P. retaliated and was later found guilty of battery charges.

The appeals court's opinion further explained that the law applies any place where a person has a right to be – including the person’s home, his car, or on his school bus.

From here, another judge will determine whether or not the case against T.P. should be dismissed. Now that SYG law is a factor, the judge will have to regard the case within the context of the new law. Specifically, the judge will need to determine if A.F. was the aggressor and if T.P. had reason to believe that he could have suffered great bodily harm.

If you were one of the judges ruling on this case, what would you have said?

Source: CBS Local