Meltzer & Bell, P.A. Wins Landmark Stand Your Ground Case in Florida

Stand Your Ground

In a landmark ruling, the Florida Court of Appeal has expanded the interpretation of the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, holding that a homeowner openly carrying and loading a firearm on his own property does not constitute criminal use of deadly force. The case revolved around Richard Burns, who was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after a confrontation with a tree-cutting crew in his yard.

During the incident, Burns had retrieved his firearm and openly carried it in his yard while loading it, following a dispute involving sexually suggestive gestures towards his fiancée and threats towards his dogs by the tree-cutting crew. Despite not pointing the firearm at any of the crew members or verbally threatening them after loading the weapon, Burns was still charged with aggravated assault.

Burns’ legal team, led by Ari S. Goldberg and Lawrence M. Meltzer of Meltzer & Bell, P.A., moved to dismiss the charge on grounds that Burns used a justifiable level of force during the incident. The Court of Appeal agreed, stating that the display of a firearm constitutes non-deadly force as a matter of law.

The Court further noted that Florida law provides individuals with the statutory right to openly carry a weapon or firearm on one’s home property or place of business. In light of this, Burns’ actions of openly carrying and loading his firearm in his yard, in anticipation of possibly needing to use it for protection during his confrontation with the tree-cutting crew, were deemed legal.

In a significant extension of the “Stand Your Ground” law, the court ruled that Burns is entitled to immunity from prosecution for his non-deadly use of his firearm during the incident, leading to the dismissal of his aggravated assault charge. This pivotal case, successfully argued by Goldberg and Meltzer, could have considerable implications for future cases involving the open carrying of firearms on private property in Florida.

— Reason