The phrase “stand your ground” is something we hear quite a bit these days. Some 27 states have adopted what is known as Stand-Your-Ground Laws; and, seven states, including California, have passed stand-your-ground in practice. Criminal defense attorneys in states like Florida cite the self-defense law regularly, recent cases of note include the trial of George Zimmerman which led to an acquittal for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Naturally, people can find arguments for supporting or opposing stand-your-ground laws. Advocates say that duty-to-retreat laws put the safety of criminals above a victim. Opponents say that stand-your-ground laws make prosecuting cases against individuals who shoot others and then claim self-defense, a real challenge, according to MSNBC. If you consider a death that occurs and the only other witness to the incident is the victim: the killer can claim that his life was in danger, and the person who could have argued otherwise is dead. MSNBC reports that since Florida enacted the law, self-defense claims tripled in the subsequent years. Stand-your-ground is laid out in Dawkins v. State, 252 P.3d 214 (Okla. 2011), whereby the court wrote:
“[T]he ‘stand your ground’ law… provide[s] that a person has a right to expect absolute safety in a place they have a right to be, and may use deadly force to repel an intruder… for a person to be justified in using deadly force, the person must not be ‘engaged in unlawful activity.”
Stand Your Ground In California
Stand-your-ground laws allow citizens to “stand their ground” and use force without retreating, to protect and defend themselves or others against threats or perceived threats. While California hasn’t enacted a stand-your-ground law, we do have something similar: the Castle Doctrine.
Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred.
Mostly, the Golden State takes a stricter stance on using force for self-defense; Californians do not have to retreat and can use deadly force if they are at home or place of business. In Florida, the use of deadly force is allowed regardless of where a person is or whether or not he or she has an opportunity to retreat.
“Here in California we use the Castle Doctrine that has some of the elements of the Stand Your Ground law,” Sgt. Stephen Wells with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office tells Bakersfield Now. “Basically if you’re inside your home you’re allowed to use reasonable force to protect yourself and other people in your home.”
Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney
Please reach out to the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you or a family member are facing criminal charges in the State of California. Attorney Brower has the expertise, experience, and understanding of the law to help clients acquire the most favorable outcome.