In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder many questions have arised. Of them all, the number one question has been, why has George Zimmerman not been arrested for the murder of Trayvon. Answer, the “stand your ground law”. It is at this moment that the second most asked question is posed, what’s the “stand your ground law”!? The “stand your ground” law permits the use of deadly force without duty to retreat, when there is reasonable belief of a threat. The law also provides immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action. One of the major flaws with the “stand your ground” law is the absence of duty to retreat. In criminal law, duty to retreat is an integral part in the defense of self-defense because the burden of proof is on the defendant to show that he or she were acting reasonably. For example, in states that do not have the “stand your ground” law, if you kill an individual and now stand trial, to claim justifiable homicide on the grounds of self-defense you must show that you made an attempt to avoid the conflict and secondly made a reasonable attempt to retreat before using force. If you can not prove this, than your claim of justifiable homicide may be dismissed. Therein lies the problem with the “stand your ground” law because duty to retreat does not apply hence the name “stand your ground”. Just over a year ago in Florida, Trevor Dooley, a 71-year-old retired bus driver and 41-year-old David James got into an argument at the local park over a kid skateboarding on the basketball court. David James allegedly lunges at Trevor Dooley and Dooley shoots David in the heart, killing him in front of David’s 8-year-old daughter. Trevor Dooley never stood trial for what was otherwise the murder of David James. It must be reiterated, had Trevor Dooley stood trial he would have had to prove that he made an attempt to avoid the conflict and a reasonable attempt to retreat. Why was Trevor at the park with a gun to begin with? Was Trevor the aggressor? Guess we’ll never know because he’s protected by the “stand your ground” law. Above all the most crippling aspect of the stand your ground law, as stated earlier, is that once granted it provides immunity from prosecution and civil action.
|Calendar Year||Justifiable homicide by civilian||Justifiable homicide by police||Total|
|First half of 2011||16||33||49|
Miami’s police chief made a prediction shortly before the law took effect:
“Whether it’s trick-or-treaters or kids playing in the yard of someone who doesn’t want them there or some drunk guy stumbling into the wrong house,” Chief John Timoney told the New York Times, “you’re encouraging people to possibly use deadly physical force where it shouldn’t be used.” -Tampa Bay Times
These predictions, unfortunately, turned out to be true. How many more Trayvon Martin and David James will it take until it becomes obvious that the stand your ground law must go!!