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Stand Your Ground May Lose Its Legs

Last updated on April 8th, 2012 at 06:20 pm

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 The attorney said, “If a law can be proven to cause undue harm, the law can be repealed and the authors and lobbyists can be the defendant to a civil lawsuit.”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.

Tim From LA

Tim's first experience into journalism was at East Los Angeles College. Then Tim was a stringer for a local Japanese American Newspaper in Los Angeles. He then completed his Bachelors in Business and RECEIVED his MBA, but his desire to seek the truth has not been assuaged by fear of the 1% or their followers. When Tim isn't doing his liberal thing, he enjoys sitting back, relaxing and listening to Rush...the band folks!

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