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Stand Your Ground v. Self Defense

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In 2005, Florida passed a law related to the "Castles doctrine", expanding on the premises with "Stand your Ground" language related to self defense and duty to retreat.  Prior to Stand your Ground, a person could only use non-deadly force to defend against the imminent use of unlawful non deadly force.  Deadly force was authorized only to defend against imminent deadly force or great bodily harm, or the commission of a forcibly felony.  A person had a "duty to retreat" prior to using deadly force.  The only exception was if a person was in his or her home or workplace.  In one’s home the "Castle’s Doctrine" provided that the person had no duty to retreat prior to using deadly force against an intruder. 


Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law is a law that now gives individuals the right to use deadly force to defend themselves without any requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation, so long as he or she is in a place where they are lawfully entitled to be when the danger occurs.  Under this legal concept a person is now immune from both criminal and civil prosecution, as opposed to an affirmative self defense that you would need to be asserted at Trial. 


There are currently 22 states with a law which provides that there is no duty to retreat an attacker in any place in which one is lawfully present.  At least nine of those States include language stating one may "stand his or her ground".   In Florida the Stand your Ground Law has cause great controversy following the State v. George Zimmerman case, which involved the shooting and death of a minor boy named Trayvon Martin.  The irony is that the Defense in Mr. Zimmerman’s case did not argue the "Stand Your Ground" law, but instead strategically chose to use the basic Self Defense law.

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