Even Felons Who Have Guns Illegally Can Claim Self-Defense

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In the case of Aaron Little versus the State of Florida, Mr. Little was charged with committing the crime of second-degree murder with a firearm.  Little filed a motion to dismiss his case in which he argued that he shot the victim in self-defense and was therefore entitled to claim immunity from prosecution because of Florida’s "Stand Your Ground" law which authorizes the use of deadly force when a person "reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself."


The trial judge who heard Little’s motion to dismiss denied his motion because in the judge’s opinion Little removed himself from the imminent threat of death or great bodily harm by going inside a house. However, Little then chose to arm himself with a gun and re-engaged the victim.  It was that action, according to the trial judge, that prevented Little from claiming immunity under the Stand Your Ground law.


However, the court of appeals which reviewed Little’s case disagreed with the lower-court judge. The court of appeals said that there was no evidence that Little made any threatening moves towards the victim or that he said any threatening words to him.  Instead, the victim raised his guns and pointed them at Little, and Little, in turn, responded to that threat by shooting and killing the victim.  Therefore, Little was entitled to claim immunity under the Stand Your Ground law.


The prosecutor also argued that Little’s motion to dismiss should be denied because Little was a felon who was in illegal possession of a gun when he killed the victim, and anyone who is engaged in unlawful activity cannot claim immunity under the Stand Your Ground law.


The court of appeals rejected that argument as well.  The court said that Little’s status as a felon in possession of a firearm did not preclude his claim of immunity where the evidence showed that Little’s use of force was justified to prevent his imminent death or great bodily harm.