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Judge dismisses charge against Broward teen who stood his ground

The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin has lately shined a spotlight on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. While it remains to be seen whether the evidence against George Zimmerman will result in his conviction, another criminal charge against a teenager in Broward County was recently dismissed based on "Stand Your Ground."

A physical altercation at a Hollywood gas station led to a 17-year-old skateboarder being charged with aggravated battery. The teenager was skateboarding out of the gas station parking lot when the alleged victim gestured at and said something to the boy. The teenager turned around to confront the man, and a fight ensued.

Lucky for the accused teenager, a surveillance camera caught everything on tape. The video shows that the alleged victim actually threw the first punch. The man's brother then came out of the gas station and punched the boy at least 10 times in the head as the first man tried to hold the boy on the ground.

The accused 17-year-old was able to free himself from the fight, but the men chased him down. Apparently fearing for his life, the teenager fought back, stabbing the alleged victim. At that point, the teenager escaped.

The judge in Broward County watched the video and agreed to dismiss the aggravated battery charge, basing his decision on Florida's "Stand Your Ground" legislation. If convicted, the 17-year-old could have been sentenced to prison. A combination of the surveillance video and "Stand Your Ground" resulted in the criminal charge against him being dropped.

The trial involving George Zimmerman may not involve video footage of the incident in question, but both of these cases in Florida underline the fact that evidence is necessary for a criminal conviction. When evidence and the circumstances of an arrest can be called into question, a judge may do exactly what was done with the charge against the 17-year-old: dismiss.

Source: NBC Miami, "Charge Dismissed Against Teen Who Stood His Ground in Gas Station Fight," Ari Odzer, April 28, 2012

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Andrew M. Coffey has been recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

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