T Nation

Stand Your Ground


Martin/Zimmerman thread got me thinking. (Please keep comments specific to that case in that thread.)

What defines self defense? Do you agree with the legal definition?

When can you claim it? When can you not?

What is the bare minimum in "harm" for it to be justified? Threat? Actual physical harm? Significant physical harm?

Examples for discussion:


Do you think the Uncle would have been justified if after he caught the man he had shot him?

If someone breaks into your home, is there a time when deadly force isn't justified?

If someone steals your car, can you use deadly force to protect your personal property? What if you were in it at the time?


I think it is pretty easy.
If you legitimately fear for the life of your family/friend/yourself then deadly force is justified.
If you do not fear for a/your life then I do not think its justified.





Not so easy! If you are the aggressor, and your victim gets the best of you during the scuffle, and THEN you fear for your life and kill him, it is NOT self-defense.


Minimum harm to be justified: what a reasonable person would believe to be causing seriously bodily injury or life threatening.

If someone steals your car: If your car is parked an you are getting a cup of coffee, then no you aren't justified in taking their life. If someone steals your car at gun point, then yes you are justified in killing them. Again, what a reasonable person would believe to be causing serious bodily injury or life threatening. There is no threat to you're life if the guy is driving away with your car and you are two blocks away at Starbucks. Hopefully you have insurance, it is the law.


Oh, and if someone breaks into your home kill them. There is a line that is crossed there and there is nowhere to run. Some states laws require that you must try to run out the back door first. This is wrong imo. A jury most likely wouldn't convict someone of murder anyway of they killed an intruder.


Not sure if serious?


Sure. Ill take it a step further. If your friend is getting his ass kicked and you feel his life may be in danger and you kill the attacker, it is not self-defense.

And it is not whether YOU fear for your life, but whether a reasonable person would fear for their life in the same situation. A psycho might legitimately fear for their life because someone offers them a lollypop but that does not justify them in killing that person because a reasonable person would not feel the same in that situation. Again, not so easy!


Absolutely not imo. This guy is probably not a top level marksman, and even if so, there is a chance of harming the baby whos safety is paramount if this situation.

Now if the baby was sitting twenty feet away from an person pointing a gun at the baby, then yes he would have been justified in shooting him. There is a special relationship between a guardian and child unlike a simple friendship. If he reasonably feared for the childs life (gun pinted at him scenario) then yes, justifiable.


I thought of this when the media was trumping riots over the verdict. If they vandalized my car, no.

If they stomped my yard or my flower bed, no.

If they broke into my home, game on and kill them all.


It varies from state to state. States that do not have Castle or Stand Your Ground Laws if someone breaks into a house the people inside may need to try and leave 1st.


I immediately thought of this.


If someone has you in a full mounted position (mma term) and is slamming your head into the concrete


For all of America's flaws when it comes to guns, liberals, robberies and the like, you do not want to live in a country where some pikey piece of shit can rob you, laugh at you, spit on you and get off scott free whilst you remain in custody because he told the police how you punched him, in your own home, at night, and he had a weapon.

Welcome to England, where a castle has its drawbridge down for all and sundry.


On a serious note, if someone breaks into your house, you have the right to kill him, no matter why he broke in (thief, rapist, whatever). You also have no right to kill someone entering someone else's house, your only right then is to inform the police. Also, at any time you are in public and someone threatens your life in order to steal from you, you have the right to kill him.

You don't have the right to kill someone who runs and steals you bag, for example. There must have been some immediate threat to your life. In general, "an eye for an eye" kinda thing is applicable, in my opinion. But, I live in Greece, where a burglar can get into my house, I beat him, and I am going to jail because he can sue me because I beat his ass. If I kill him, I am going in for life, because I commited a homicide.


Ya, but how do you prove or even define legitimate fear? Is there a different standard for women, children, cowards, etc...


Apparently for many, that is not a justifiable time to use deadly force...


Not in MD. Good luck if you shoot someone in your house at 2AM in MD if they don't have at least a knife. In the Peoples Republic of Maryalnd you have to practically wait for your rapist of murderer to "finish" their deed before defending yourself.


Fear is purely personal. If you feel fear, you apply deadly force. It could be a term used in a court, I feared for my life. Case closed.


Which means you can lie in court and get away with murder.

"Oh your Honor, I'm a huge pussy, and that guy looked so scary, so I shoot him."

"Umm he was there to fix your plumbing..."

"But he was scawwwyyyyy....."