Wyoming Joins the Large Majority of “Stand-Your-Ground” States
As many as 36 states now qualify as SYG jurisdictions
Just days ago, on Friday, March 16, Wyoming became the 36th state to join the large majority that qualify as “Stand-Your-Ground” jurisdictions, furthering a trend that has been moving in only a single direction for quite a few years.
During the 2013 murder trial of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin—a trial that justly resulted in Zimmerman’s acquittal of all criminal charges—much was made by the media and activists (but I repeat myself) about the fact that Florida was a “Stand-Your-Ground” state. This furor was ignited and fueled relentlessly despite the fact that the legal doctrine of “Stand-Your-Ground” was, in fact entirely irrelevant to the case.
Although at the time many seemed to suggest that “Stand-Your-Ground” was an aberrant public policy limited to a small number of states, or perhaps even limited solely to Florida, the truth was that even in 2013 the large majority of American states qualified as “Stand-Your-Ground” jurisdictions, meaning that they did not impose a legal duty to retreat before one could use deadly force in self-defense.
There are, naturally, other conditions that needed to be met in these jurisdictions before deadly defensive force could be used, but a legal duty to retreat was not among them.
Indeed, since Zimmerman’s acquittal on July 13, 2013, and the furor over “Stand-Your-Ground” as some kind of racist “license to kill,” an additional four states have joined the “Stand-Your-Ground” ranks.
In addition to Wyoming making “Stand-Your-Ground” law on March 16, 2018 (although it doesn’t actually take effect until July 1), Iowa did so effective July 1, 2017, Missouri did so effective January 1, 2017, and Alaska did so September 19, 2013.
During this period no state has abandoned “Stand-Your-Ground” and chosen to impose a legal duty to retreat before defensive force is legally justified.
In the same legislation that Wyoming made law last week, the state also expanded it’s self-defense immunity provisions to allow for immunity against criminal prosecution (the state had already previously allowed for immunity against civil suit in self-defense cases). Further, the legislature defined the specific pre-trial legal procedure to be employed in determining whether immunity was warranted.
Andrew F. Branca is an attorney whose practice Law of Self Defense LLC focuses on self-defense law. He is also the host of the weekly “Law of Self Defense LIVE Show.”
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These laws are great! They save lives and save the taxpayers a boatload of money when the criminal doesn’t need to go to prison.
Hardly. The law doesn’t require that the shot be fatal. In fact, most gunshot wounds aren’t.
Just as important as being protected from unjust prosecution is not being subject to civil liability for defending oneself. It was quite common of perps and their families to victimize their victim with a civil lawsuit, often bankrupting them.
Without that civil lawsuit shield, perhaps cities decline would not have been severe.
It is most certainly gratifying when thugs and thuglets instantly receive lawful justice.
Why should anyone, who is in a place the person is legally entitled to be, be forced by law to flee from an attacker rather than defend him or herself? Laws which require the person to flee, if possible*, are perpetrator protection laws.
* And the prosecutor gets the initial opportunity to decide what was, and was not, possible. A Jury may, or may not depending on various factors including demographics, determine otherwise if the victim has the financial ability to mount a legal defense.
The duty to retreat made sense prior to firearms: people owed *allegiance* to the monarch (and the willingness to conscript troops meant even criminals were useful), and retreating was generally safe.
Common law hasn’t caught up to the availability of firearms, or to the reduction in duty to the sovereign, or to the fact that criminals are now a pure liability.
ecreegan, This is only partially true. It is a perception that those who do not like stand your ground like to claim and it is believed by many, but that was only a part of the law. There was actually more to the entire law.
Those against stand your ground ignore what the English called Justified Homicide. They pretend it doesn’t exist or define it very very narrowly and expand excusable homicide (the duty to retreat) as far as possible.
Here is a quote from Sir Edward Coke 1664
“Of manslaughters, some be voluntary, and not of malice forethought: of these some be felony (as shall be showed hereafter) and some be no felony; of which, some be in respect of giving back inevitably in defense of himself, upon an assault of revenge: and some without any giving back; as upon the assault of a thief or robber upon a man in his house, or abroad: …”
Must retreat upon an assault of revenge, but no duty to retreat upon assault of a thief or robber inside or outside his home.
Common law has had stand your ground for a very long time. it is the state without any stand your ground for these types of cases are the ones that went against common law.
I could go on as to some of the reasons why the change, but one of the big reasons is that back then “se defendendo” was defined differently than today (excuable homicide and which required retreat), however that term did not apply to the killing of a thief or murderer (justifiable homicide, but to which no other term really applied until Foster tried to give it one in 1746).
The only retreat that is needed is when you plant your back foot in the Weaver stance
“Why should anyone, who is in a place the person is legally entitled to be, be forced by law to flee from an attacker rather than defend him or herself? ”
I’m not sure but I think it was a liberal mentality that breaking and entering shouldn’t be punished with execution.
Obviously that’s not what I believe. In fact I’ve gotten in trouble for advising that if you’re going to shoot an intruder make sure he is dead before police arrive. There should only be one version of events – yours.
“I’m not sure but I think it was a liberal mentality that breaking and entering shouldn’t be punished with execution.”
Prior to SYG law,it was common advice that when shooting an intruder to make sure they would fall inside the house. I always told my wife to aim for their belt buckle, that way she would get something vital. Besides, I think that lowlife might learn more from a gut shot. How about adding a bit of chicken crap to a 00 buckshot load?
There has been a trend in the law, over the last 20 years, not to force law abiding citizens to rely upon the dubious mercy of criminals. This is an extremely logical concept and the State of Florida has been a front runner in this trend. It is good to see the State of Wyoming join other sane states.
Georgia has been a Stand your Ground state since it was an English colony. It was common law. The only thing Florida law showed Georgia is that is should be written into the official code.
A quote from Glover v State 1898:
“So under section 71, one free from fault may, without retreating, take human life and be justifiable, if the circumstances are sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable man that a felonious assault is about to be made upon him, and the slayer, who is free from blame, acts under the influence of such fears, with the bona fide purpose of preventing the felony from being committed upon him. One who is himself to blame, however, has not the same right of standing his ground and of justification as one who is not at fault. “
Stand your ground was a principle of common law in virtually every state in the union, until some states, mostly Northeastern states, statutorily eliminated it. What Florida did was to statutorily ensconced the right to stand one’s ground in order to curtail the idea that retreat was necessary; a concept which was largely introduced into the jurisprudence of that state by refugees from the Northeast.
Congratulations to the citizens of Wyoming.
Also, Good to see you Andrew, I hope the reason you have been absent is that you are to busy to visit, lol.
I wonder for those jurisdictions that do not have SYG, maybe they should expand the need to retreat to the police. That worked well in Florida.
STG defense is eminently applicable to abortion by a woman who is threatened by her fetus with death or serious bodily injury or even, probably, to unwelcome touching for 9 months.