On Wednesday, the 4th District Court of Appeals in Florida heavily criticized Broward Circuit Judge Elijah Williams for not allowing a defendant in a fight between schoolchildren, to claim the defense of the “Stand Your Ground” law.
In the instant case, a middle school student identified in court records as T.P. got into a fistfight with a girl on a school bus belonging to the Broward County. T.P. was accused of battery, convicted and sentenced as a juvenile.
According to court records, T.P. and the girl, identified as A.F. were on the same bus when they had a fight. The school bus driver testified the girl grabbed the boy’s jacket, punched him and pulled him down on a seat before the boy tried to fight back.
The boy was sentenced.
The girl testified that the boy attacked her without provocation.
Broward Circuit Judge Elijah Williams did not allow the defense of the “Stand Your Ground” law to T.P., because according to him, the boy was not protecting his home or vehicle.
The appeals court overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial instructing Williams to consider that the boy could invoke the protection of “Stand Your Ground.”
Without going into who was telling the truth, the appeals court wrote, “[T.P.] was not engaged in an unlawful activity, and he had the right to be on the bus going home from school … Whether he was faced with ‘force’ from A.F. and whether he reasonably believed that such force was necessary to prevent harm to himself were factual matters for the trial court to determine.”
Under the Stand Your Ground law, a person is permitted to counter force with force, if the person is in a place he/she has a right to be, and if the use of force is necessary to prevent bodily harm or death.