WEST PALM BEACH (CBS12) — The Florida Senate approved changes to the state's controversial "stand your ground" law Thursday. The legislation still needs to be approved in the Florida House to become law.
The issue shifts the "burden of proof" in a pre-trial hearing from defendants to prosecutors. Changes to the law now require state attorneys to prove "by clear and convincing evidence" why a defendant could not claim "stand your ground" in self-defense.
In "stand your ground" cases, pre-trial hearings are held to figure out whether defendants should be immune from prosecution.
In 2015, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that defendants held the "burden of proof." This new legislation shifts that burden to the prosecutors.
Under "stand your ground," residents are able to use deadly force in defense of their lives or property in certain circumstances, with no obligation to retreat or flee.
The controversial law came into the national spotlight when 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Orlando.
Friday marks the four year anniversary of the shooting death that became a milestone in American race relations.
Zimmerman was acquitted in July 2013.