The “Stand your Ground Law” has been highly controversial and has risen its head again in Florida in respect of the deadlock over the Michael Gunn case where the software developer was accused of shooting a black man over his loud music.
ABC report that Dunn was convicted on four other charges in the case, in which he fired 10 times at an SUV after an argument with the teens inside about how loud their music was, and will likely be sentenced to a minimum of 60 years behind bars.
Mistrial Declared on Murder Charge in Loud Music Killing Case
As in the case of George Zimmerman, acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin, the public outrage was often directed or misdirected, at the Florida law.
Many, including legal commentators who should know better, repeatedly citing the statute as a crucial issue in both cases.
And yet neither defendant invoked the controversial aspects of Florida’s law. In fact, both defendants argued basic self defense law that would have been similar in just about every state in the nation.
The relevant portion of the law of self defense in Florida reads: “A person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself”
The controversial section of that law relates to the fact that there is no “duty to retreat,” meaning that in non-stand your ground states one must, in most cases, first attempt to get away if he or she can.
In Florida, however, there is no such requirement and the shooter may “stand his or her ground” when firing in self defense.
But the duty to retreat was not an issue in either Dunn or Zimmerman. In both cases the defendants argued that deadly force was used because they “reasonably” believed that it was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily injury. That, is at its core, no different than the law in almost every other state.
Zimmerman claimed Trayvon Martin was pummeling him and Dunn that he had a shotgun pointed at him by a young man saying “I’m going to kill you.” If Dunn’s account were true — and it was contradicted by other witnesses — then retreat hardly seems like an option.
Regardless of what one thinks of the defenses (and because of Zimmerman’s injuries and the testimony of eyewitnesses, his defense was far stronger legally than Dunn’s claim, which was only supported by his own testimony) the controversial aspect of the law was hardly the issue.
The other major and controverted change in Florida’s law was that one who claims he or she was justified in using deadly force may seek to avoid any liability, criminal or civil, by proving at a pre-trial hearing that the shooting was justified.
See: ABC News