I could have sworn I had written about my concerns about the Stand Your Ground laws after Florida passed it, long before the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Can’t find it. So I’ll cheat, and expand on this document from the government of the state of Connecticut.
The Castle Doctrine and “stand-your-ground” laws are affirmative defenses for individuals charged with criminal homicide. The Castle Doctrine is a common law doctrine [going back to English common law] stating that an individual has no duty to retreat when in his or her home, or “castle,” and may use reasonable force, including deadly force, to defend his or her property, person, or another. [There was a case a few years ago where some drunk guy wandered into someone’s home in western New York at 1 a.m. The intruder was shot and killed, and no charges were filled.] Outside of the “castle,” however, an individual has a duty to retreat, if able to do so, before using reasonable force.
Stand-your-ground laws, by comparison, remove the common law requirement to retreat outside of one’s “castle,” allowing an individual to use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat. [Note this important distinction; one does not have to walk away from the conflict.] Deadly force is reasonable under stand-your-ground laws in certain circumstances, such as imminent great bodily harm or death.
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