Tuesday, April 10, 2012

For Those Who Haven't Read The Stand Your Ground Law

This paper from the National District Attorneys Association includes in the appendix the Stand Your Ground laws of various states, including Florida.  Read it yourself.

The Florida statute allows use of deadly force
to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony
or in defense of one's home.  Deadly force is justified outside one's home
only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person does not have a duty to retreat if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be.
The justifications for use of force (much less deadly force) are not available to someone committing a forcible felony, or if he provokes the use of force.  There is one exception, and this is the only part that might have relevance to the Martin shooting.  If you provoked the use of force, you may not use these justifications

(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.
If Zimmerman's account of being on the ground being pounded against the pavement is correct, then even if he provoked the use of force, he would have been in the right, and I can't criticize his decision under those conditions.  If Zimmerman was not on the ground being pounded, then his use of deadly force would not be justified by this law, regardless of whether he provoked the use of force, unless Martin was engaged in "the imminent commission of a forcible felony."

It has been apparent for some time that a lot of the lynch mob mentality of this case has to do with pushing for gun control,or exacerbating racial tensions as a campaign strategy.  Stand Your Ground's relevance is about zero.


  1. I have a friend whose brother died in a fight and the death was a result of severe head trauma caused by blow to the back of his head on the sidewalk. Yes, Zimmerman was right when he judged this as a life or death situation.

  2. Actually Clayton, Paragraph B would also potentially apply because Zimmerman claims that he was returning to his truck after being told not to follow Martin when Martin approached him from behind, asked him if he had a problem, and when Zimmerman replied no, martin purportedly said "you do now" and decked him. If that is indeed the case, then he had clearly disengaged and was attempting to leave the area. If that is indeed what transpired, then both Paragraph A and B apply. Further, Zimmerman claims that he did not draw his weapon until it became visible during the struggle on the ground and Martin attempted to take the gun saying something to the effect "you are going to die tonight", and in the struggle for control of the gun he shot Martin. So in that circumstance then the first paragraph also applies.

  3. Rorschach, "being told not to follow Martin" is incorrect. The 911 operator said "we don't need you to [follow Martin.]" Zimmerman was NOT told to leave him alone.