The differences between “stand your ground” and common self-defense

By popular demand, lets take some of the issues in the Zimmerman case a little deeper just for discussion’s sake. There are many levels to discuss and so few hours in the day. That being said, this is one case out of thousands that deserve attention but in this instance, we’re all familiar with it.

On the topic of “stand your ground” and the misinformation which continues to fly regarding such laws, there are several differences between that statute and what’s commonly considered self-defense.

First and foremost, the Florida “stand your ground” (SYG) statute did not apply in the Zimmerman case nor was it ever argued by the defense to apply. Typically self-defense law holds that if you’re attacked with force and fear for your life or fear great bodily harm, you must attempt to retreat until you can retreat no further, at that point you can use deadly force simply under the banner of self-defense. All states have some form of this dating back centuries.

In Florida, the SYG statute simply removes the victim’s burden to retreat and says that, if you’re the innocent party who has not provoked the attack, you do not have to retreat before deploying deadly force on your attacker. In essence, SYG is a burden-shifting law which empowers the victim in the case of an attack. In Florida there is what is known as a “stand your ground hearing” which allows you to present evidence that you stood your ground in the face of an attacker and if the court agrees, your case is dismissed since you were the innocent victim defending yourself without the need to retreat. There mere fact that George Zimmerman was on trial means that SYG did not apply to this case.

Explanation of Florida’s “stand your ground” statute:

Under Florida law, “[a] person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” § 776.013(3), Fla. Stat. (2007).

Explanation of Florida’s “stand your ground” hearing:

When the defendant files a motion to invoke the statutory immunity, then the trial court must hold a pre-trial evidentiary hearing to determine if the preponderance of the evidence warrants immunity. See State v. Yaqubie, 51 So.3d 474, 476 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010).

At the hearing, the trial court must weigh and decide factual disputes as to the defendant’s use of force to determine whether to dismiss the case based on the immunity. Peterson v. State, 983 So.2d 27, 29 (Fla. 1st DCA 2008). The defendant bears the burden of proof on the issue of whether the “stand your ground” or “castle doctrine” immunity attaches to his or her actions. Id.

During the evidentiary hearing the trial court considers the disputed issues of fact and must make a finding under the preponderance of the evidence standard. The court can either dismiss the charges or allow the prosecution to go forward.

If you apply this to the Zimmerman case it’s clear that because George Zimmerman exited his truck and followed Trayvon Martin, the SYG statute cannot apply to this case. Thus, George Zimmerman waived his right to a “stand your ground hearing” because he knew and his attorneys knew the SYG statute did not protect Zimmerman because he did not act within the confines of the SYG statute since his actions helped lead to the altercation that ended Trayvon Martin’s life.

Therefore, the demands to abolish or curtail the concept of the SYG laws around the country are misguided and do not take into account that it had no effect on the outcome of this case. Around 30 states have a similar SYG statute to Florida. Other states, such as Washington and Virginia, have SYG precedent in Common Law dating back hundreds of years.

As to what actually happened with regard to self-defense law, the jury believed that as Zimmerman and Martin fought on the ground, Martin may have pinned Zimmerman to the ground meaning Zimmerman, under pure self-defense, could not retreat and thus had the right under the law to use deadly force. Again, this scenario has nothing to do with the SYG statute in Florida law. It would have played the same way in nearly every state since it is under the banner of self-defense. Federal Law also holds the same concept of self-defense.

In some states, the burden or description of manslaughter might read differently which could have affected the outcome but in this case, the law as it was written was applied by the jury. Since they believed George Zimmerman’s account and the witness’ account of what they believe happened, self-defense law acquitted George Zimmerman, not the “stand your ground” law.

Had the jury not believed that George Zimmerman feared for his life, self-defense would not have applied either.

  • Bob

    “Separate and apart from the Trayvon Martin case that has drawn the nations attention it’s time to question LAWS THAT SENSELESSLY EXPAND THE CONCEPT OF SELF DEFENSE AND SOW A DANGEROUS CONFLICT IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS. It is our collective obligation we must stand our ground to ensure that our laws reduce violence and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence.”
    Attorney General Eric Holder

    “Judicial watch has released documents demonstrating Justice Department Community Relations Department was entangled in “New Black Panther” led rallies and protest against George Zimmerman. These are the same rallies and protest where New Black Panthers called for a bounty on Mr. Zimmerman and released “Dead or Alive” posters.”

    Our top law enforcement official thinks there is a double standard of social justice in America by the above quote and action.Does Attorney General Holder FIGURATIVELY CARRY A RACE CARD IN HIS WALLET? SADLY YES! He keeps a quote from a Rev. Samuel A. Proctor when he was studying history at Columbia University. It begins like this:

    “Blackness is another issue entirely apart from class in America. No matter how affluent, educated or mobile a black person becomes his race defines him more particularly than anything else.”

    You can read the whole article AND ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDERS “RACE CARD BELOW:

  • Bob

    The stark hypocrisy of this entire episode is mind boggling on many counts.

    President Obama and Attorney General Holder have asked for a “National Dialogue” on race on a few occasions. But like the verdict in this trial a dialogue is only considered justice if the outcome is the verdict they desire. Now my cynical criticism here isn’t for this issue alone but for EVERY ISSUE THE LEFT TAKES. We have had a national conversation on gun control, marriage equality, income equality, immigration, the debt, climate change, obesity, bulling and of course race. All with the same outcome only this issue results in justifying it by protesting a supposed injustice by committing crimes.

    The violence which follows these trials are like organized clockwork by a left wing which follows the rule “Never let a crisis go to waste”. Logic isn’t a factor here for if it was then African-Americans should be protesting the black on black violence that overwhelms Chicago, the Dr. Kermit Gosnell trial that killed hundreds of black children, or ask yourself will there be protest after the Aaron Hernandez trial because he killed a black man (Odin Lloyd)? No these circuses are the result of race baiting hustlers who go from Bernie Goetz(1984)to Howard Beach(1986)to Tawana Brawley(1987) to Bensonhurst Yusef Hawkins(1989) to Crown Heights(1991)to Freddie fashion mart* (1995)to Duke la Crosse team (2006)to George Zimmerman (2013).Leading to lies, lawsuits and deaths*.

    Some questions that need to be addressed are:

    * If these protest were done by the Tea party you could bet the “HOODIES” the MSM would have us wearing would be KKK hoods.

    * How can George Zimmerman be labeled a “WHITE HISPANIC” due to his mixed heritage and President Obama is called “black’ by the MSM ?

    * Why didn’t white America stage protest after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of killing two white people?

    * If same sex marriage is equated with the civil rights movement where is the gay communities outrage?

    * Will this lead to a long hot summer of protest including so called sympathy protest by “O.W.S.” ?

    * If it’s the juries fault as stated by some and the state was going after a conviction why did the prosecutor approve of each juror and not include any blacks?

    * Will this affect the views of some politicians on the immigration bill before Congress?

    * How will future historians reason with a black president getting ELECTED TWICE and America is as racist as people say?

    * Will Washington ask for stimulus money to re-build inner cities after the rioting?

    By rioting after each outcome they disapprove of America must ask just who is profiling who here? Are the actions they are taking only justifying the image America has of Blacks? Is their vision of justice based on “rule of law” or empathy, social justice and vigilantism?

  • Bob

    After interviewing three dozen people the F.B.I. found no evidence of racial biased.

    From the article “F.B.I.Records: Agents Found No Evidence That Zimmerman Was Racist”…see below

    But if your Justice Department Community Relations Department is going to run protest during the investigation and has a hand in the chief local law enforcement officer being fired the WHO NEEDS EVIDENCE?

  • Bob

    On the 8th of January 2011 (one year before the shooting) George Zimmerman testified before a public forum against Sanford police in defense of a homeless black man who was beaten by the son of a white police officer.

    Perhaps the Rev.Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson can hire Mr.Zimmerman to cover the racist attacks they are to busy to cover?

  • Bob

    Sanford Police Department Detective Chris Serino who headed the shooting probe said he believed Zimmerman’s actions were not based on skin color.

    You can read the article ALONG WITH A LINK TO DETECTIVE SERINO’S REPORT below:

  • Bob

    Always the steadfast politician President Obama while being more cautious with his statement after the trial than before never the less has hidden messages in order to placate black America and at the same time serve his agenda.

    Daren Jonescu from American Thinker analyzes the presidents statement below in an article entitled “Honoring Trayvon”

  • Bob

    The United States Department of Justice appealed to civil rights groups and community leaders for help in the investigation of federal charges against George Zimmerman. The D.O.J. set up an “E” mail address to solicit tips in the Zimmerman civil rights investigation.

    From an article entitled “DOJ Solicits E Mail Tips In Zimmerman Civil Rights Probe” ….Orlando Sentinel 16th of July 2013,0,4338518.story

    The Justice Department can’t substantiate any wrong doing by Mr. Zimmerman during the course of their own investigation (see my 1:50 PM post above)so they “DEPUTIZE” Al Sharpton,the New Black Panthers and any other left wing racist to provide the tar and feathers. The current administration seems to have little regard for the amendments to the Constitution which gives protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, double jeopardy,protection of a speedy trial by jury and the right to confront your accusers lately.

    Big government is a symptom of an apathetic people…and timorous eunuchs !

  • Bob


    Here is an article concerning the “Stand Your Ground” issue that Attorney General is so adamantly against. His quotes sound like he is getting his talking points from Joe Biden concerning the tactic of firing a shotgun in the air to scare thugs away. You may have already seen it on “American Thinker” website by Jeffrey T. Brown.