Stand Your Ground

April 4, 2012

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing by George Zimmerman on February 26th, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has come under intense scrutiny. The law, passed by Florida legislators in 2005, allows people to employ deadly force in cases of self-defense where they believe their lives are at risk. (2005 Fla. Sess. Law Serv. Ch. 2005-27) The law’s original Senate sponsor, Durrell Peaden, stated it was crafted after an elderly man from Pensacola shot an intruder who tried to loot his hurricane-ravaged home. George Zimmerman now seeks protection under “Stand Your Ground” by claiming that he feared for his life and that his actions were made in self-defense.

While the facts remain in question, a few observers have opined that “Stand Your Ground” is inapplicable in the Trayvon Martin shooting as George Zimmerman is believed to have followed and later confronted the teenage victim. If correct, Zimmerman may have to rely on common-law self-defense. This will likely raise the question of whether use of deadly force was justifiable under the circumstances. According to Robbins v. State, “A person is justified in using deadly force in self-defense if he or she reasonably believes such force is necessary to protect one’s self from imminent death or great bodily harm; the circumstances must be such that the defendant had cause to think loss of life or serious injury is imminent.” (891 So.2d 1102)

The primary difference between common-law self-defense and “Stand Your Ground” is the matter of retreat. While “Stand Your Ground” abolished the duty to retreat, common-law self-defense requires one–outside of the home or curtilage–to retreat if possible, and if doing so will avoid the need to use deadly force. (Falco v. State, 407 So. 2d 203)

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Database/Content Category: Florida Hist. Legislative Service (FL-LEGIS-OLD)
Search“deadly force” & da(2005) (1 doc)

Database/Content Category: Florida Cases (FL-CS)
Search: SY,DI(“SELF-DEFENSE” /S “DEADLY FORCE” /S JUSTIF!) % (“NON-DEADLY FORCE” /S “SELF DEFENSE” “NOT JUSTIF!”) (22 Docs)
Search: self-defense /s common-law (18 Docs)

 

Database: BLACKS

Search: curitilage

curtilage (k<<schwa>>r-t<<schwa>>-lij). (14c) The land or yard adjoining a house, usu. within an enclosure. • Under the Fourth Amendment, the curtilage is an area usu. protected from warrantless searches. — Also termed (in Latin) curtillium. See open-fields doctrine. Cf. messuage. [Cases: Searches and SeizuresKey Number27.]