“Stand Your Ground,” “Shoot First,” “Make My Day” — state laws asserting an expansive right to self-defense — have come into focus after last month’s killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
While local prosecutors have not arrested the shooter, George Zimmerman, the case is now being investigated by the Department of Justice and a Florida state attorney. It’s not clear whether Florida’s self-defense law will be applied in the case. (The police report on the shooting refers to it as an “unnecessary killing to prevent unlawful act.”)
Still, in not arresting Zimmerman, local officials have pointed to Florida’s wide definition of self-defense. In 2005, Florida became the first state to explicitly expand a person’s right to use deadly force for self-defense. Deadly force is justified if a person is gravely threatened, in the home or “any other place where he or she has a right to be.”
In Florida, once self-defense is invoked, the burden is on the prosecution to disprove the claim.
Click on the state to see its law.
Illinois (The law does not includes a duty to retreat, which courts have interpreted as a right to expansive self-defense.)
Oregon (Also does not include a duty to retreat.)
Washington (Also does not include a duty to retreat.)