self defense 2

Introduction

Many of you will recall the recent case involving George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. The Francescani article provides more background on the facts leading up to that case. While Florida has a “stand your ground” law in effect, it was not the deciding factor in the Zimmerman case. Fla. Stat. § 776.01 states:

A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or (2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.

In Florida, there is no requirement or “duty to retreat” and a shooter may “stand their ground” when firing in self defense. But the duty to retreat was not an issue in the Zimmerman case because, as the defense argued, deadly force was used because Zimmerman “reasonably” believed it was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily injury. This rule is on par with almost every other state.

Based upon the recognition that a person has the right to repel an unlawful attack, self-defense generally requires that an accused establish that there was a good faith belief there was an imminent threat of harm, that force was necessary to repel the attack, and the force was reasonable under the circumstances. Deadly force can only be used to repel an attack that threatens great bodily harm or death.

In your main post, discuss the following:

  • Analyze the difference between the objective, reasonable person standard and the subjective evaluation of a person who invokes a claim of self-defense, providing examples to support your findings.
  • Describe how those differences may become obscured depending upon the facts and circumstances of a particular case.
  • Explain potential challenges that could be faced by law enforcement when investigating crime where there is a claim of self-defense.
  • Standing in the shoes of a police officer, examine whether the validity of a self-defense assertion is something that you believe is appropriately determined at the law enforcement level.

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