interesting that one of the grounds for reversal was her refusal to give a self-defense instruction. The Court recites the requirements for the instruction. The defendant doesn't have to testify, and only has to introduce some evidence. The judge is not allowed to weigh the evidence.
A trial court's decision to give or withhold a proposed jury instruction is generally reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Vila v. State, 74 So. 3d 1110, 1112 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011). However, the trial court's discretion is more restricted in criminal proceedings "because a criminal defendant is entitled to have the jury instructed on his or her theory of defense if there is any evidence to support the theory and the theory is recognized as valid under Florida law." Id. The trial court should not weigh the evidence when determining whether to give the requested instruction. Id.; see also Pope v. State, 458 So. 2d 327, 329 (Fla. 1st DCA 1984) (stating that "it is axiomatic that a defendant is entitled to have the jury instructed on the rules of law applicable to his theory of defense if there is any evidence to support such an instruction, and the trial court may not weigh the evidence in determining whether the instruction is appropriate") (citing Smith v. State, 424 So. 2d 726, 732 (Fla. 1982)). The jury—not the trial judge—decides the weight of the evidence. Vila, 74 So. 3d at 1112. "The question of self-defense is one of fact, and is one for the jury to decide where the facts are disputed." Id.
Additionally, a defendant is not required to testify at trial to receive a jury instruction on self-defense. Sipple, 972 So. 2d at 915. A defendant's statements admitted into evidence at trial may be sufficient evidence for a self-defense instruction. Id. The cross-examination of State witnesses can also support a claim of self-defense. Id. at 916.
Finally, if a jury can reasonably infer from circumstantial evidence presented at trial that the defendant had the state of mind necessary for self-defense, then the defendant is entitled to a jury instruction on self-defense. Johnson v. State, 634 So. 2d 1144, 1145 (Fla. 4th DCA 1994).
The case was decided May 31, 2013.