• Will Florida's stand your ground law stand up to new scrutiny?


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The murder acquittal of George Zimmerman has refocused the spotlight on Florida's stand your ground law, even though that argument wasn't involved in the case.

    Zimmerman's attorneys argued that Zimmerman defended himself because he couldn't get away after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin ambushed him and pinned him down.

    Channel 9 legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said Florida lawmakers had good intentions when they passed the stand your ground law. He said there was no public outcry when the law was passed in 2005.

    The law eliminated the requirement of a victim to retreat before using deadly force, if in fear of great bodily harm or death. It gave more protection to violent crime victims.

    The 2005 changes in the self-defense law gave violent crime victims the right to stand their ground and use deadly force. In addition, it protected alleged victims claiming self-defense, as Zimmerman did, from immediate arrest.

    Zimmerman got that protection from arrest even though he told Sanford Police he was pinned down couldn't get away from 17-year-old Martin.

    Police sent the case to prosecutors for a decision on an arrest. That move sparked outrage and demands for an arrest and trial.

    Sheaffer said that now that the trial is over, the debate is shifting back to the law itself.

    "It's already been examined in light of this case and there were recommendations not to change it, not to repeal it. I can't see this making much more of a difference," said Sheaffer.

    The right to stand your ground was intended to put the life of the innocent person over the life of the criminal.

    For example, if someone was approached by a larger person carrying a knife, they would not have to turn their back on the attacker to try to run away, which could put them in even greater danger. They could stay put and use deadly force to protect themselves.

    "We have juries, and juries by and large reach the right result, and so the abuses of stand your ground seem to be very, very few," said Sheaffer.

    Sheaffer said lawyers will test the elasticity of the law or any other law. He said there will be abuses, but the question is, do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, and so far Florida has decided the benefits are greater.

    Read: Florida's Justifiable Use of Force statute

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    Will Florida's stand your ground law stand up to new scrutiny?