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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Protect Your Castle, Stand Your Ground...or Flee?

A few states (Nebraska, New Mexico, New York and Vermont), require that when you are being assaulted either in your home or anywhere else, you must first try to flee from your attacker. If you try to flee first and your attacker continues to prevail against you, you may have the right by law to protect yourself even with deadly force. If you do not try to flee first and your deadly force actually kills someone, you could be charged with manslaughter.

In 26 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington), the law states that you have the right to use deadly force against an attacker without having to try to flee first anywhere that you are standing legally. This is called the Stand Your Ground law.

In 18 states  (Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Wyoming), the law allows you to use deadly force to protect yourself without having to flee first only if the attack happens in your home. This is called the Castle law. (A man's home is his castle) This law was first established in England during the 17th century.

South Dakota has a rather unclear self-defense law that allows deadly force in your home only if your attacker is trying to murder you or commit any other felony against you. In bible times, if a robber broke into your home at night and you believed he might harm or even kill you or family, you might have ended up killing that person and would not be held blood-guilty. However, if the robbery happened in daylight and you could discern that he was only after possessions and not your life, then killing him would bring blood-guilt to you.

There are some interesting applications here to George Zimmerman's case. For one thing, he sought out Martin to determine his intentions rather than being attacked first by Martin.The Stand Your Ground law was not even used in Zimmerman's defense and was not the jury's basis for acquittal. It's true that his delayed arrest may have been based on that law, but it doesn't even apply to this case because Zimmerman had no opportunity to flee once he was held down and again he followed Martin first, not the other way around.

It's true that an altercation ensued with Martin using some deadly force on Zimmerman when he struck his head against the concrete sidewalk several times. Zimmerman did not have the option to flee at this point, because he claims that he was being held down. It was brought out in court that Martin had THC in his system in small amounts and Zimmerman may have smelled the pot on him. Zimmerman may have truthfully felt the need to exercise deadly force at this point to protect his life. But, it appears that he instigated the altercation to begin with by following him. Such a sad situation.

It seems that both parties were suspicious and paranoid of each other. Neither one of them handled their encounter in a peaceful way and their meeting that day ended with tragic results. Even though George Zimmerman was found not guilty in court, he will have to live with the fact that he may have made some arrogant decisions that day that led to a young man's death. However, Martin did nothing to assure Zimmerman that he meant no harm to anything or anybody.

This case evokes a great deal of emotional pain for everyone involved. The families of these two men will hurt for the rest of their lives. Martin's family will grieve his loss of life and Zimmerman and his family will grieve their loss of innocence and freedom. Their names have become household words and their story will make history. Their actions have led to outbreaks of violence in cities across the country.

This case is also causing many to boycott the state of Florida simply for possessing the same law (Stand Your Ground) that 25 other states have had for years. Many are saying that they will not buy oranges from Florida because Zimmerman was found not guilty. Oranges? Seriously? What about those other 25 states? Should they be boycotted too? This would mean no peanuts, peaches, steel, oil, casinos, bluegrass music, rocky mountains, big river trade, country music, poetry, cheese, Cajun food, horses and salmon to name a few.

Can't we all just be friends?

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