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Strengthened 'threatened use of force' law could be coming in Florida

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The Florida legislature is moving forward with a bill that would strengthen the ability of Floridians to protect themselves, their property and their families when threatened with force from another. Two bills are moving through the Florida House and the Florida Senate and were easily approved in their first passages yesterday, March 20, 2014 and will likely pass a floor vote this session.

House Bill 89 and Senate Bill S0448, currently dubbed "Threatened Use of Force" would abolish mandatory minimum sentencing in cases which a Floridian is being threatened by another person. The bills work to end a problem faced with some in Florida that have had to face mandatory prison sentences even though they were in compliance another aspect of Florida Statutes in protecting themselves, their property, their families or the lives of another. This is what happens when legislators vote with emotion rather than reason when passing, in this case for instance, 10-20-Life styled mandatory minimum sentences. It makes them appear to the public as being strong on crime, however they clearly did not appreciate the unintended consequences of their votes when they originally passed such legislation.

Libertarians have long been exposing the problems associated with mandatory minimum sentences and libertarians are breathing a sigh of relief as the nation moves in their direction of thinking. Mandatory minimum sentencing removes the ability for the court system to have control over specific cases of circumstance which would allow more lenient or harsher sentencing.

The way HB 89 reads today would allow anyone in Florida to meet force with force without fear they would spend the rest of their life in prison. Specifically, it reads, in part:

"Provide criminal and civil immunity to those who threaten to use force if the threat was made in a manner and under circumstances that would have been immune under chapter 776, Florida Statutes, had force actually been used.

(b) Clarify that those who threaten to use force may claim self-defense if the threat was made in a manner and under circumstances that would have been justifiable under chapter 776, Florida Statutes, had force actually been used.

(c) Ensure that those who threaten to use force in a manner and under circumstances that are justifiable under chapter 776, Florida Statutes, are not sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment pursuant to s. 775.087, Florida Statutes.

(d) Encourage those who have been sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment pursuant to s. 775.087, Florida Statutes, for threatening to use force in a manner and under circumstances that are justifiable under chapter 776, Florida Statutes, to apply for executive clemency."

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