“Stand Your Ground” Law Often Stands Up in Court

In 2005, Florida enacted the “Stand Your Ground Law” which gives the right of its citizens to protect themselves should they feel threatened by another person. The law specifically states that, under certain circumstances, individuals need not retreat and can use whatever force necessary, including deadly force, to protect them or their property from harm. However, the law does not allow an individual to pursue another individual and claim self-defense under the law.

Recently, the law has been brought to the public’s attention through the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Martin, a 17-year-old teenager, and Zimmerman, a 28 year old, clashed on the night of February 26, 2012. After walking to the local convenience store, Martin, confronted by Zimmerman, was shot dead by Zimmerman, the local Neighborhood Watch Captain. Zimmerman told the police that Martin had attacked him, offering self-defense as his reasoning for shooting Martin. Police, happy with their preliminary investigation, allowed Zimmerman to return home without charging him with the crime. A public outrage ensued, leaving many Martin supporters irate with the non-actions of the police force. The FBI were brought in to investigate what really happened the night Martin died.

Zimmerman, now in hiding, still contends he used deadly force to protect himself. His defense is based on the premise that under duress and due harm, a person can use such deadly force to ward off harm to themselves. He claims that Martin had attacked him first, splitting his head open and breaking his nose. The police, backing Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense, saw that Zimmerman did indeed have a cut on his head, grass stains on his back, and his nose was bleeding. Some lawyers contend that Zimmerman and the police have correctly applied the laws governing the state, but others do not.

One this is clear: the Stand Your Ground Law will be scrutinized not only in the state of Florida and in surrounding areas, such as Orlando, but everywhere in every state the law is applied.