A series of states have passed “Stand Your Ground” laws, which permit a person to respond to home intrusions or personal attacks with lethal force if necessary. Some recent court cases involving the laws have made national headlines.
Home a castle in some states
Most people have heard that old saying “a man’s home is his castle” or something to that effect. Castles, in medieval times, had to be defended.
A small, but growing, number of states guarantee people’s right to defend themselves in case of a home intrusion by passing laws that free people of legal culpability if they use force to defend themselves against a home invader. That includes lethal force.
Sometimes called “Castle Doctrine,” “Stand Your Ground” or “Make My Day” laws, 15 states currently have laws to that effect, according to the Palm Beach Sun-Sentinel. The legal protection can also extend to attacks. In other words, a person being attacked can respond with deadly force if they feel they are in danger and face no criminal or civil liabilities.
New Year’s home invasion makes news
An incident involving a young widow in Oklahoma recently made national headlines. Sarah McKinney, 18, was at home with her infant son less than a week after her husband died from lung cancer, when two men tried to force their way into her home on New Year’s Day, according to CBS.
She called 911, asking the dispatcher if it was legal to shoot the intruders if they got in the home. The dispatcher told her to do what was necessary. When 24-year-old Justin Martin broke into the house, she shot him with a 12-gauge shotgun.
Authorities will not charge her as she acted legally under Oklahoma’s Castle Doctrine, but Martin’s accomplice is being charged with first-degree-murder, as the crime that he was attempting to commit led to Martin’s death.
Teen avoids murder charge
A Florida teen was recently acquitted of a murder charge, according to the Daily Mail, after being charged in the death of a classmate who attacked him. Jorge Saavedra, 15, stabbed 17-year-old Dylan Nuno 12 times, killing him, after the two got into a fight at a bus stop. Nuno, in the grade ahead Saavedra, had been allegedly bullying the younger boy, and Saavedra was trying to get away from his harasser.
Saavedra was tried as a juvenile. The presiding judge concluded that he had acted within the law, as Florida law allows people to respond with force, even deadly, if they have a reasonable belief that they will be hurt or killed unless they respond in kind. Florida’s law, among the first in the nation of the kind, was passed by then-governor Jeb Bush in 2005, according to the Tampa Bay Times. There have been at least 97 legal cases involving the law, resulting in seven acquittals and 57 instances of charges being dropped or the case being dismissed.
Palm Beach Sun Sentinel: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2011-09-12/news/fl-boat-shooting-defense-20110912_1_murder-charges-michael-monahan-controversial-state-law
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