Stand Your Ground May Lose Its Legs

stand your ground map

Remember Schoolhouse Rock I’m just a Bill? How Bill was sitting on top of Capital Hill waiting to be a law? The law according to the cartoon was to make school buses stop at railroad crossings and making sure that a train is not approaching? Well, it took awhile and a lot of lobbying by the people, to make sure that our children are safe on their way to school. Did you also know that when a bill is drafted and made into law, the author of said bill can be sued so that when a bill is written and submitted to Congress or at the state level, the assembly, every loophole must be closed so that there is nothing in the bill that can cause harm. What is harm? When something in a law violates the Constitution and a person’s civil rights. Stopping before crossing a railroad track can cause some harm, like backing up traffic a bit, but the safety and well-being of children going to and coming from school supersedes a few seconds of waiting. Yet there may be some trouble with Stand Your Ground.

Stand Your Ground, a law lobbied hard by the NRA and supported by Wal-Mart, may have backlash according to an attorney for the State of California. The attorney said, “If a law can be proven to cause undue harm, the law can be repealed and the authors and lobbyists can be the defendant to a civil lawsuit.”  That’s why, in any law, it needs to be air-tight so that any counter-suit would be impossible. Not seeing the actual law itself, but if Wal-Mart or the NRA left out the clause that they are not held responsible for any civil or negligent torts, they may have to pay reparations to  the victims of the said law.”

Still, according to the same attorney, Stand Your Ground as written, does not cover negligent homicide. And with the revelation from audio expert saying that the voice in the 911 recording is Trayvon Martin and not George Zimmerman, the state has to prove intent that he killed Martin with malice aforethought. If Zimmerman continues to say he was in fear for his life, as mentioned in the the corpus delicti for justifiable homicide, and the D.A. cannot prove intent, then the D.A. cannot file first degree murder. One such famous case was the infamous O.J. Trial in Los Angeles.

When Orenthal James Simpson was arrested, the D.A. tried to file first degree murder, but could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that O.J. killed Nicole Brown with intent and possibly Ron Goldman. As the trial happened and a verdict of not guilty was reached after three hours, many of the jurors said that they believed that O.J. may have killed the two but the D.A. could not prove that he was responsible. Yet unlike the O.J. case, audio recording from the 911 call proved that Zimmerman was there, had a confrontation and killed Martin. The only thing lacking is intent for first degree murder. But the usage of Stand Your Ground defense may be a detriment for the defense, as well as the author and lobbyist group like: ALEC, the NRA and possibly Wal-Mart, the largest firearms dealer in the United States.

If the law does not apply to Zimmerman and Zimmerman is found guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter (criminal negligence), the fact that if he is convicted of a lesser crime because a law is used to prevent any first degree murder to happen can have dire consequences for lawmakers, lobbyists as well as restructure or throw out the Stand Your Ground law. A stand-your-ground law states that a person may use deadly force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first. California Penal Code § 198.5 sets forth that unlawful, forcible entry into one’s residence by someone not a member of the household creates the presumption that the resident held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury should he or she use deadly force against the intruder. This would make the homicide justifiable under CPC § 197. A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his ground and defend himself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger … has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.

But fear itself in California is not justifiable. Fear must be attached with imminent peril of death or great bodily injury. The penal code for burglary is 459 P.C. The law reads:

Every person who enters any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, as defined in Section 21 of the Harbors and Navigation Code, floating home, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18075.55 of the Health and Safety Code, railroad car, locked or sealed cargo container, whether or not mounted on a vehicle, trailer coach, as defined in Section 635 of the Vehicle Code, any house car, as defined in Section 362 of the Vehicle Code, inhabited camper, as defined in Section 243 of the Vehicle Code, vehicle as defined by the Vehicle Code, when the doors are locked, aircraft as defined by Section 21012 of the Public Utilities Code, or mine or any underground portion thereof, with intent to commit grand or petit larceny or any felony is guilty of burglary.

In California, someone who breaks in to the above-mentioned dwellings with the intent to commit a felony can be charged with burglary. This includes doing drugs and not stealing anything. But, if person breaks into a home and just stands there, they can be charged with misdemeanor vandalism and trespassing and are not a threat. So the castle doctrine does not apply and if the trespasser is shot and killed, the shooter can be charged with second degree murder or manslaughter. California has one of the most stringent gun laws in the 50 states and Standing Your Ground is not a defense one can use like in Florida. But if Zimmerman is charged with homicide, this would then mean that the law may have to be rewritten or thrown out, the previous cases will have a reinvestigation since 2005 when former governor Jeb Bush signed the bill to law and Wal-Mart, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and the NRA may get sued for lobbying for a law that caused the questionable death of more than 65 Floridians and maybe more.

17 Replies to “Stand Your Ground May Lose Its Legs”

  1. I had a large and totally demented friend who, a few years back, showed open my door, burst in, charged through the house and inspected everything, and gave me a running critique throughout. Luckily, I recognized this person before picking up the pipewrench, the machete, or the maul. Had I genuinely not, the outcome might have been fatal. Had I hesitated an instant and it had indeed been a home invader, it might equally have been fatal…for me.

  2. in almost any situation the most valuable advice is to remain invisible in a situation where another person has a gun. If someone puts a 45 on you, it’s advisable to not fumble around and try to get your own pistol out. Any time someone has to jump on you, don’t pull your gun out and put yourself or your family in danger. Trying to make up for a small Dick and thinking that you are the person who wrote the Constitution can get you killed.

    It’s pretty obvious which way the standard ground laws going to go in Florida. I fully agree with standing your ground in your own home, but not when you’re chasing an individual and calling it self-defense. stand your ground laws are nothing more than kill when and where you want, and to further decay our society with even more idiots running around with guns

  3. It has the odd glitch or typo, but I comprehend it. If it was written on a small device, those are difficult to proof.

  4. Actually, “stand your ground” is not applicable in the case of a break-in, instead it’s known as “the castle doctrine.” The previous stance, which is still in place in many states, is that you’re expected to attempt to retreat, until retreat is not possible, and the assumption that “your home is your castle,” and you’re allowed to defend it when “invaded.”

  5. Welcome to PoliticusUSA Tim. It’s interesting to get a professional take on these laws. From what I read of the Florida version, it is only applicable when the person does not instigate the encounter. In the Zimmerman case, by pursuing Trayvon from his vehicle, it’s going to be hard to get around that part.

  6. Agreed, but the way the pigs interpret everything, unless they’re specifically forbidden to arrest you for self-defense (or you don’t fit some preferred stereotype like rich and white), you go to jail. They’ve made that abundantly clear to us, to the point where we are uncertain whether we should call them when problems happen around here – because of the real danger from them to us.

    Before the Castle doctrine and Stand your ground – we were strictly charged that if someone came into our house, we weren’t to resist. If someone got into our car and demanded it, we were to turn it over to them (and then call the police if possible). If we resisted them at all, we faced arrest – and if we used lethal force to defend ourselves, we would be arrested for murder. I don’t want to go back to those days where my home could quickly become someone else’s castle and I would be SOL.

    I’ve delayed calling them because of my fear of them… and regretted calling them when bad things were happening in the area because they got aggressive and hostile with us (getting hostile toward me instead of investigating a bunch of crazy and ground-shaking explosions a couple of blocks away, for instance – the last time we called).

    If there are any changes, it should be to prevent people like Zimmerman from misusing the law. Once he was out of his car, he had no right to use lethal force (exception of course pure self-defense, which that wasn’t).

  7. As I remember about the law, it’s meant to protect people who use deadly force to protect themselves.

    There was some sort of situation that brought it all about, as I remember an elderly man shot an intruder who was a threat to him. They were going to put the elderly homeowner in jail, and it created a big stink because it was a clear-cut case of self-defense. At the time you had to prove that the intruder meant to kill, that the intruder was armed with a deadly weapon, and you had no escape, otherwise you’d be tried for murder. He couldn’t prove one of the three criteria… I think that he had a deadly weapon although the intruder (as I remember the reports) significantly outweighed the homeowner, was much bigger and stronger, and had a violent reputation). I may have a couple of cases confused, but the gist of it was that someone was going to be tried for murder even though it was self-defense.

    The law as I understood it protected you in your home, your car, and your business – places where you had a right to belong and others (non-family and without permission) didn’t. I didn’t know that it extended to being in public places and if so… I could see where it might be needed at times (I’m thinking about a couple of cases where a man murdered his estranged wife in public and might have been stopped if someone else was armed), but also see where it could become problematic (people like Zimmerman).

    I didn’t know about the instigation provision… that’s a good common-sense thing. I like it.

    Zimmerman overstepped the bounds of the law and committed murder, plain and simple… and if the reports are right (and I believe them), it was a hate crime.

  8. Ack! Editing error!

    I think that he couldn’t prove that the person he shot had a deadly weapon, although the intruder…

  9. I hope it does fail, it’s absurd. That’s all we need is a law to encourage gun toting, knuckle dragging red neck types that think it’s their job to police the world. Spare me. No more Zimmerman Syndrome incident’s. One is quite enough for media fodder and political fuel.

  10. According to reports today, a group of neo-nazi’s are now patrolling that area – just in case there are riots. Now THAT should really make the residents feel all warm & fuzzy.

  11. Stand Your Ground should be repealed. It’s a license for conceal and carry gun owners to kill at will with no prosecution. In the Trayvon case, no one was around until the screaming for help began and shortly after the screaming was silenced by the gunshot from Zimmerman. It is a fact that Zimmerman was following Trayvon. That is confirmed by the 911 tapes and the girlfriend that Trayvon was talking to on his cell phone. Zimmerman was asked to stop following him and Trayvon told his girlfriend that he was going to walk quickly but not run as she had advised. For all they knew George could have been an armed sexual predator. After that point, Zimmerman’s story gets really suspect and the witness and subsequent 911 calls, and police videos don’t support his statements of fear for his life and defense. I hope Trayvon did have an opportunity to fight for his life, but it sounds like Zimmerman got him down first. My guess is it was by an aggressive attack. If he received scratches on his head, that’s understandable from a kid fighting for his very life. Slamming his head on the concrete until near unconsciousness simply does not seem to be supported by any evidence. And in my opinion if Trayvon did scuffle and hit Zimmerman’s head to try to save his own life because he had the so called “stand your ground” right, he is still the victim here. Trayvon would still be alive today drinking ice tea and eating skittles and talking to his girlfriend if power hungry and possibly racist driven Zimmerman had simply obeyed the police dispatcher and stopped following Trayvon and never gotten out of his car. Another question I have here in regard to Zimmerman, … why was Zimmerman allowed to be a neighborhood watch guy and carry a licensed concealed weapon in a residential neighborhood with a background of an arrest from an assault on a police officer and issues of domestic abuse? Trayvon had no police record or evidence of aggressive or violent behavior. He was actually a hero in saving his own father in a fire. Trayvon was unarmed. This case has not been brought to justice. WHY? This law has protected the shooter and not the victim. This could easily happen again and again. All you need is an absence of witnesses and killing someone can be defended by a statement of self defense with no proof. That is so frightening especially for people of color. I’m sure the fact that Zimmerman’s parents working in the judicial system has given him a pass in this case, probably like it did in the past offenses. I keep hearing that his mom is hispanic but his father is not. I can’t say what that means racially, but Zimmerman’s father has had some very strong statements about race and a horrible unfounded statement against our President. To my knowledge, as parents they never gave condolences or any compassion to Trayvon’s parents just out of understanding the loss of a child regardless of the circumstances.
    This law must be ended. There can be no good to come of it. It is designed by the NRA and used by many on the Rightwing in my opinion. I would not be surprised if you researched this law, it’s enactment might prove to be of a racist nature. This law is horrendous. Before Trayvon’s tragic death, I never even heard of it. The GOP seems to do well at putting legislature through that travels under the general public radar.
    I understand that we need to give thanks to the organization “Color of Change” for exposing ALEC as the organization responsible for Stand Your Ground Laws and the new Immigration Laws.

  12. fjoy,
    Thank you for the kind words about “Color of Change” a grassroots advovacy group fighting for justice among other things. Color of Change accept donations. You seem right up their alley. I’ll match your donation. SHCCCC

  13. I think it is pretty clear from the Zimmerman case that we can’t trust the police to do their jobs. True there are some “gun toting, knuckle dragging red neck types” out there but the vast majority of us gun carriers do not fit that stereotype. I carry to protect my self and my loved ones, not to incite violence.

  14. The fact that neo-Nazis are patrolling Sanford adds even more insult to the injury for Trayvon Martin’s family and the people in Sanford who are only seeking justice for Trayvon, which the police department there has been instrumental in denying. My question is why they are allowed to walk around with their guns, intimidating people because it’s obvious that they are trigger-happy fools spoiling for a confrontation like Zimmerman was. The SYG law has undoubtedly been abused repeatedly, and the Trayvon Martin case happens to be one that Florida has been unable to cover up. It’s obvious that this law can be twisted by the likes of Zimmerman and others to justify senseless killings.

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