Toiran v. State

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Citation337 So.3d 93
Docket Number3D19-911
Parties Rene TOIRAN, Appellant, v. The STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date17 November 2021

337 So.3d 93

Rene TOIRAN, Appellant,
The STATE of Florida, Appellee.

No. 3D19-911

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District.

Opinion filed November 17, 2021

Rier Jordan, P.A., and Jonathan E. Jordan and Andrew F. Rier, Miami, for appellant.

Ashley Moody, Tallahassee, Attorney General, and Ivy R. Ginsberg, Aventura, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.



Rene Toiran ("Toiran") appeals from his conviction and sentence for second-degree murder with a firearm. We affirm.

Toiran was charged with second-degree murder with a firearm. Pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.190(b), Toiran filed a pretrial motion to dismiss, asserting that he qualifies for statutory immunity from criminal prosecution under Florida's Stand Your Ground ("SYG") law,

337 So.3d 95

section 776.032(1), Florida Statutes, because he was acting in self-defense when he shot the victim ("SYG motion").

At the time of the shooting and when Toiran filed his SYG motion, under the 2015 version of section 776.032, during an SYG immunity hearing, a defendant was required to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she acted in self-defense. See Bretherick v. State, 170 So. 3d 766, 775 (Fla. 2015), superseded by statute as stated in Sparks v. State, 299 So. 3d 1 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020). However, the Florida Legislature amended section 776.032 by adding subsection (4), which became effective on June 9, 2017, and provides as follows:

In a criminal prosecution, once a prima facie claim of self-defense immunity from criminal prosecution has been raised by the defendant at a pretrial immunity hearing, the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence is on the party seeking to overcome the immunity from criminal prosecution provided in subsection (1).

§ 776.032(4), Fla. Stat. (2017) ; Ch. 2017-72, § 1, Laws of Fla.; see also Derossett v. State, 311 So. 3d 880, 889 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019) (explaining that "once a defendant raises a prima facie claim of self-defense immunity under [ section 776.032(4) ], the State bears the burden at the pretrial immunity or Stand Your Ground hearing of proving, by clear and convincing evidence, why the defendant is not entitled to immunity from further prosecution").

In July 2017—after the effective date of section 776.032(4), Florida Statutes (2017)—the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing on Toiran's SYG motion. Applying the burden of proof under the 2015 version of section 776.032, the trial court denied Toiran's motion to dismiss.

Toiran then filed a petition for writ of prohibition, arguing that he is immune from prosecution under Florida's SYG statute, section 776.032, Florida Statutes (2017). This Court noted that the lower tribunal did not have the benefit of this Court's decision in Love v. State, 247 So. 3d 609, 612 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018), in which this Court held that the burden of proof in the 2015 version of section 776.032 continues to apply to crimes committed before the 2017 amendment adding section 776.032(4). As such, this Court denied the petition and concluded that the trial court correctly applied the 2015 version of the SYG statute when denying Toiran's SYG motion. Toiran v. State, 256 So. 3d 948, 949 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018).

In December 2018, Toiran proceeded to a jury trial. After both the State and defense rested, Toiran moved for a judgment of acquittal arguing that the evidence failed to rebut his justifiable use of deadly force against the victim. The trial court denied Toiran's motions for judgment of acquittal. The trial court instructed the jury on self-defense. Thereafter, the jury found Toiran guilty of second-degree murder with a firearm, finding that during the commission of the crime, he discharged a firearm causing the victim's death, thereby rejecting Toiran's claim of self-defense. Toiran was later sentenced. Toiran's appeal followed.

Following Toiran's conviction, the Florida Supreme Court issued two relevant decisions. First, In December 2019, the Florida Supreme Court quashed this court's decision in Love v. State, 247 So. 3d 609 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018). See Love v. State, 286 So. 3d 177 (Fla. 2019). The Florida Supreme...

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