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Self-Defense and Dismissal of Charges

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          It is the law in Florida that when a person accused of committing a crime claims that he acted in self-defense, the case should be dismissed by the trial judge when the prosecution’s evidence is legally insufficient to rebut the claim of self-defense.

          For example, in the case of G.T.J. v. State of Florida the undisputed evidence showed:

          1.  G.T.J. was outside an apartment occupied by two individuals named Hernandes and Miranda;

          2.  G.T.J. and a friend of his got into a fight with Hernandes and Miranda;

          3.  Hernandes and Miranda chased G.T.J.;

          4.  G.T.J. turned and struck one of the men who was chasing him in the face with a stick; and

          5.  G.T.J. swung his belt at both Hernandes and Miranda but missed.

          In deciding that the trial judge should have dismissed this case, the appellate court noted that G.T.J. presented unrebutted testimony that:

          a.  He swung a rod at Hernandes and Miranda only after Hernandes first swung a knife at him and then proceeded to chase after G.T.J. while accompanied by Miranda; and

          b.  He swung his belt at the two men only after one of the men began choking him.

          The appellate court continued on by observing that the evidence presented by the prosecution did not rebut G.T.J.’s testimony regarding the violent, aggressive behavior of Hernandes and Miranda insofar as neither of the latter two individuals denied that Hernandes had threatened G.T.J. with a knife.  Nor did they deny that G.T.J. had been choked. 

          Accordingly, the appellate court concluded that trial judge should have granted G.T.J.’s request that his case be dismissed.