In February 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed at close range by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator during an altercation. According to Zimmerman, his actions resulted from self-defense. Subsequently, he was released without any charges by the Sanford Police Department after evidence asserted his statement without contradiction. This case has sparked a nation-wide uproar, initiating Florida to re-evaluate its Stand Your Ground Law. Zimmerman now faces second-degree murder charges.
A task force comprised of attorneys, law enforcement officials, legislators and judges held an administrative meeting to issue recommendations to the state legislature, evaluating the controversial Florida Statute Chapter 776. This meeting served to examine the application and interpretation of the Stand Your Ground Law. This statute has caused a stir throughout the state of Florida since the death of Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin.
Florida Statute Chapter 776 addresses the justifiable use of force in the protection of one's home, the use of deadly force, and presumption of fear of death or great bodily arm. The Stand Your Ground law states that an individual may use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat to one's well being or property, without immediate duty to retreat. Duty to retreat is a specific constituent in self-defense cases and is addressed if the defendant must prove that his or her defensive acts were justifiable without reasonable doubt. The burden of proof lies in the defense to demonstrate reasonable belief, which is necessary to show that the defendant attempted to initially not use deadly force. The stand your ground law is used as a defense or immunity to criminal charges, as well as civil suit in these circumstances. In cases where this legal concept would be used as a defense, the plaintiff or state is legally permitted to seek civil damages or a criminal conviction.
According to a poll administer by TBO, 56 percent of poll respondents said they support the 'stand your ground' law, 35 percent opposed it and 8 percent said they didn't know.
Although the Trayvon Martin case has brought this to the nation's attention it is certainly not the only case in Florida that involves the Stand your ground defense. If and until the Florida legislature amends or changes the law it will continue to be heavily litigated in criminal court and a major topic of discussion about legal scholars and the general public. If you think this is a viable defense for you in your Volusia County criminal case please contact an experienced Daytona Beach Criminal Lawyer to explore this affirmative defense.