David Kopel debunks the myth that Florida’s “stand your ground” law provides a viable defense to George Zimmerman:
The assertion that Florida law allows shooting whenever someone believes it to be necessary is a flat-out lie. The actual law of Florida is that “a person is justified in the use of deadly force” if “(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself….”
Florida’s rule that deadly force may be used to prevent “imminent death or great bodily harm” or “the imminent commission of a forcible felony” is the norm throughout the United States.
Like the majority of American states, Florida does not mandate that victims of a violent crime attempt to retreat before they defend themselves. The retreat rule is irrelevant, regardless of whether you believe Trayvon’s advocates or Mr. Zimmerman’s advocates….Even among the more restrictive states, such as New York, retreat is not required before using deadly force in the home – to prevent a burglary, robbery, kidnapping, rape or other forcible criminal sexual attack. Thus, whether you are in Lake Placid, N.Y., or Lake Placid, Fla., and someone attempts to rob you when you are walking down the street, you have no duty to retreat before using deadly force to thwart the robbery.
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