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The Truth About 'Stand Your Ground'

Florida's law isn't as crazy as it's being made out to be, Robert Leider argues
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2012 1:09 PM CDT
The Truth About 'Stand Your Ground'
In this Thursday, April 12, 2012 file photo, George Zimmerman, right, stands next to a Seminole County Deputy during a court hearing in Sanford, Fla.   (AP Photo/Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel, Pool)

(Newser) – A lot of misinformation is flying around about Florida's Stand Your Ground law in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, but the truth is, it's "neither extreme nor an outlier," argues Robert Leider of the Wall Street Journal. Even under Stand Your Ground, to claim self defense you have to demonstrate that you believed force was necessary to protect yourself against imminent, unlawful force from another. You also can't be the initial aggressor, and can't respond with disproportionate force.

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"In short … Mr. Zimmerman now must show that an average person in his circumstances would have viewed the Skittles-armed Martin as a mortal threat," Leider summarizes. That's not to say Florida's law is perfect; in 2005 lawmakers removed the duty to retreat, provided you can do so safely, before using deadly force. Were that still in place, prosecutors would have a slam-dunk case, because police told Zimmerman not to approach Martin. But Zimmerman still faces an up-hill climb in claiming self defense. Click for Leider's full column. (Read more Trayvon Martin stories.)

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