With school about to start, thousands of kids in South Florida will soon be on school buses headed back to class.
Now, it turns out Florida's controversial “Stand Your Ground” law can be used by kids on those buses.
A Broward middle school student just used the ‘Stand Your Ground” law to get his conviction tossed out.
The student who got into a fight on his bus with a girl initially was adjudicated or found guilty – but he appealed that and won. The youngster, who was charged with battery, has convinced an appellate court that he should have the right to claim he was standing his ground.
The 4th District Court of Appeals ruling said, "The defense argued the Stand Your Ground law, applied and that T.P. (the middle school student) was lawfully entitled to defend himself, because, according to the bus driver, A.F. (the female student) had used force against T.P. when she grabbed him by his jacket, punched him, and pulled him down into his seat."
The female student testified the boy was the aggressor.
Broward defense attorney Richard Della Fera says, "Even on a school bus where a child has a lawful right to be, this law might apply."
With so much controversy over the Florida law and some protesters calling for the law to be repealed, Della Fera says what happened on the school bus and the court's response to it indicates that “Stand Your Ground” is pretty much everywhere even when no weapons are involved.
"I think it shows us that Stand Your Ground does have broad application throughout many, many instances of everyday life,” he said.
In siding with the male student the appellate court stated, "In this case, T.P. had the right to assert a defense under Stand Your Ground. 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.’"
Said Della Fera, "Regardless of the age of the participants, regardless of the environment, that the persons are in, if it indeed is a situation where that person has a lawful right to be such as a child on a school bus, that child has the right to defend him or herself.”
Broward prosecutors said at this point they do not plan on dropping the case.
When it goes back to court, there's no guarantee the student would win using “Stand Your Ground.” The judge would have to take a look at the facts and see if the immunity applies, but the student now gets to put that on the table – which wasn't the case before. That’s something for every parent to think about right before school starts.
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