Florida not alone in expansive self-defense


Emily Adair | Lindenlink staff

Neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder charges on Saturday, July 13, in the killing of Trayvon Martin on the basis of self-defense. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law upholds that a person does not need to retreat before employing the use of deadly force in the instance of self-defense.

Breakdown of states with or without duty to retreat Image by Emily Adair
Breakdown of states with or without duty to retreat
Image by Emily Adair

Florida is one of the 36 states that allow a person to use fatal force in a case of self-defense rather than requiring an attempt to flee or take cover.

Many of those states, including Missouri, mandate that the act of self-defense must be done in the defendant’s home, workplace or vehicle in order to make the self-defense claim.

Florida’s law reads that a person may use deadly force in his or her home, vehicle, workplace, or “in any other place where he or she has a right to be,” as long as that person is not involved in criminal activity.

Seventeen other states have similar statutes and two more have had state Supreme Court rulings that duty to retreat is not necessary, though that is not stated in the law.

The following require no duty to retreat, as explicitly stated within the legislature or determined by the state’s Supreme Court. Click the state names to see the laws associated with them.

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Connecticut | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Michigan | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nevada | New Hampshire | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

The Tampa Bay Times compiled a list of more than 200 cases that involved the “stand your ground” defense. The list, which can be browsed by race, county or age of victims and accused, was updated on July 14, to change Zimmerman’s status to acquitted.