Florida's "Stand Your Ground" vs. Colorado's "Make My Day": A primer in self-defense law

clint.eastwood.sudden.impact.205x205.jpg
Sudden Impact (1983).
The language is similar, to some extent, and both laws were intended to clarify a person's right to self-defense. But there's a world of difference between Colorado's 28-year-old home- protection statute, commonly known as the "Make My Day" law, and Florida's 2005 "Stand Your Ground" law, which has been a continuing source of legal confusion and controversy -- right up to this weekend's headline-churning acquittal of George Zimmerman, who invoked the law in claiming self-defense in the fatal shooting last year of teenager Trayvon Martin.

Despite its macho, Eastwood-inspired nickname, the Colorado measure is essentially a narrowly focused, widely accepted affirmation of a bit of English common law, the notion that your home is your castle. The Florida law is, by contrast, a broadly written mess that's been used to justify all kinds of mayhem in all kinds of places, from car-chase shootouts among drug dealers to the summary executions of unarmed, fleeing victims. It's a law that many Sunshine State judges, prosecutors, civil rights advocates and politicians would like to see repealed.

Every state allows the use of "reasonable" force if a person is facing an imminent threat of physical harm, including deadly force if the threat is serious enough. What made Colorado's home-protection statute so special when it was first introduced in 1985 was its sanctioning of deadly force in defense of your home and property against an unlawful intruder, provided that you have a reasonable belief that the intruder "is committing or intends to commit a crime against a person or property," and that said dirtbag "might use physical force, no matter how slight." In other words, if someone is inside the walls of your domicile (not the porch or yard), doesn't belong there and seems to be up to no good, you're allowed to shoot first and let the cops ask the questions later. (You can find the exact provisions of C.R.S. 18-1-704.5 by following the links here.)

Signed into law by Governor Jeb Bush in 2005, Florida's "Stand Your Ground" also authorizes deadly force in defense of a residence -- or even an occupied vehicle. The perp doesn't have to be inside but merely "in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering." Yet the measure goes much further, drastically expanding the circumstances under which deadly force can be used outside the home. As long you're not engaged in an unlawful activity yourself, in Florida you have no "duty to retreat" (hence "stand your ground") and can "meet force with force" when trouble arises, as long as you're not the aggressor. (Or, in the alternative, you're the only one left alive to explain who got aggressive with whom.) It helps if you have a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm or, at the very least, a hunch that force is necessary to "prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony."

If all this sounds loosey-goosey to the point of absurdity -- well, join the club. The law has allowed a defendant who felt threatened by a man banging on windows and doing cartwheels in an apartment complex parking lot to shoot him dead and walk free. A drug dealer who pursued another in a high-speed chase on Miami streets and killed him wasn't charged because hey, he thought his life was on the line.

A fascinating Tampa Tribune study of Florida's Stand Your Ground law found that nearly 70 percent of those who cited the law as a defense have gone free. (The Zimmerman case aside, if the victim is black, your chances of not being prosecuted are even better.) In nearly a third of the cases, the defendants either started the fight, shot someone who was unarmed, or chased their victims down -- and still went free.

The most lasting impact of the law, the report suggests, might be in the number of armed citizens eager to stand their ground. Since the law was passed and the duty to retreat removed, concealed weapon permits in Florida have tripled.

Of course, Colorado's Make My Day law, while more limited in scope, has had its share of controversies, too. More on that in this week's feature, which will hit the stands and the website Wednesday afternoon.

From our archives: "Joe Arridy: Pardoned long after his execution, mentally impaired man gets online props."


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75 comments
FilthyMcNasty
FilthyMcNasty

Martin did NOT invoke the Stand Your Ground Defense. Lazy write.

HypatiaLeigh
HypatiaLeigh

This guy is really confusing it all & got the names & info all wrong.

    " CASTLE DOCTRINE"   (CD)    (aka , "make my day"slang) is a law which makes it legal to use deadly forced if reasonably believe....  etc.  *** inside one's home***.      [[  From the midevel doctrines where a "wo/man's house is their castle and can use any means to protect it".  .]]

The "STAND YOUR GROUND" (SYG)    is about protecting oneself if (beleiving reasonable body harm... etc.)  with deadly force in any place ***outside of home***  .     

 The only difference between the two is that:    INSIDE vs OUTSIDE.

Florida "SYG"  'law', is not itself  independent of their "CASTLE DOCTRINE" law.    Florida statute 776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—     Sections 1&2 deal with CASTLE (home) and section 3 deals with outside home.  

   MANY states  (not just colorado)  have the CASTLE DOCTRINE ('make my day')law .    Approx 26 states have this law, approx 5 more have a modified version thereof.  Some have the added stipulation of protecting self outside home  "STAND YOUR GROUND"  some don't.

Also,  ALL states except 2 have varying laws permitting concealed carry.   If there is a law approving carry of a lethal form of self defense, you can bet there is a law that states under what conditions they can use it.....      Thus even though not all states have the actual CD or SYG laws   ALL states have some kind of self defense law definingr appropriate legal definitions of self defense (home or outside).

http://pjmedia.com/blog/florida%E2%80%99s-castle-doctrine-law-lets-actually-read-it/

Poor article.

HypatiaLeigh
HypatiaLeigh

This guy is really confusing it all & got the names & info all wrong.

    " CASTLE DOCTRINE"    (aka , "make my day"slang) is a law which makes it legal to use deadly forced if reasonably believe....  etc.  *** inside one's home***.      [[  From the midevel doctrines where a "wo/man's house is their castle and can use any meanst to protect it".  .]]

The "STAND YOUR GROUND"  is about protecting oneself if (beleiving reasonable body harm... etc.)  with deadly force in any place ***outside of home***  .     

 The only difference between the two is that:    INSIDE vs OUTSIDE.

Florida  'law', is not itself  independent of their "CASTLE DOCTRINE" law.    Florida statute 776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—     Sections 1&2 deal with CASTLE (home) and section 3 deals with outside home.  

   MANY states  (not just colorado)  have the CASTLE DOCTRINE ('make my day')law .   Not just Colorado.    Approx 26 states have this law, approx 5 more have a modified version thereof.  Some have the added stipulation of protectingself outside home  "STAND YOUR GROUND"  some don't.

Also,  ALL states except 2 have varying laws permitting concealed carry.   If there is a law approving carry of a lethal form of self defense, you can bet there is a law that states under what conditions they can use it.    Thus even though not all states have the actual laws ..... **inside** CD home/self protection + or - an added S.Y.G. **ouside also** stipulation ....   nearly all states have some kind of legal acceptance describing their appropriate legal definitions of self defense (home or outside).

http://pjmedia.com/blog/florida%E2%80%99s-castle-doctrine-law-lets-actually-read-it/

Poor article.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Cowards Shoot First ... ipso facto

Natasha Schwertley
Natasha Schwertley

Apparently there is no right to self defense. If you defend yourself, your attacker can just kill you because you fought back and not be held responsible.

JimTom
JimTom

Typical, WestWord biased shit paper writing. I stopped reading after the first paragraph. As I have siad before, stick to stories about weed and 4 year old cross dressers.

Mark Ewell
Mark Ewell

Westword gets it wrong... shocker. Zimmerman did NOT invoke Stand Your Ground in his self-defense claim.

Karen Trujillo
Karen Trujillo

Don't wish to read it all, as it's upsetting. Just wish to say, yes, there is a difference between the 2 state's laws...in the names given them, as well.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Call it what you like, if you are in fear of your life, you have the absolute right to shoot to kill.  

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@HypatiaLeigh "The "STAND YOUR GROUND" (SYG)    is about protecting oneself if (beleiving [sic] reasonable body harm... etc.)  with deadly force in any place ***outside of home***"

So in Floriduh, cowardly gun loons could shoot / kill DUI suspects or Aggressive Drivers as they are driving their dangerous/deadly weapons in a manner that might endanger the gun loon, eh?

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@Natasha Schwertley Golly, is that what happened Natasha?  Golly!  Everyone has it wrong, the majority of clear thinking people, the six jurors, the judge, everyone.  But, but, Natasha knows what evil lurks in the heart of man.  

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@Cindy Mooney Ellenwood Ugh, no he didn't.

FilthyMcNasty
FilthyMcNasty

@Peace Will Win Said the colostomy bag with ears.

El_Derpo
El_Derpo

derp derp you scare me derp derp bang!

Harvey
Harvey

@fishingblues If you carry a gun, you are automatically assumed to be in fear (for) your life, otherwise you wouldn't feel the need to carry a gun.  So let's call it what it is: a license to kill.

ryan.cordova
ryan.cordova topcommenter

@fishingblues And that's fine.


I think most people's qualms with the law are the ability to stalk your victim for any amount of time BEFORE you kill them and still get off. That and the fact that you can hurl whatever insults, racial epithets, or verbal abuse you want without being considered "aggressive."

You can literally go up to someone and start a fight, shoot them, and then claim it was self defense so long as you didn't actually throw a punch before you shot them dead.

That's pretty damn extreme.

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@fishingblues But you're afraid of everything and everyone, especially people with advanced degrees.  What are you going to do?

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@El_Derpo Hey dippo, did you rip off the "derp, derp" from the HBO series "Deadwood"?  Hard to believe you were smart enough to come up with such compelling commentary on your own.  Well of course you did, you little plagiarist.  

FilthyMcNasty
FilthyMcNasty

@Harvey @fishingblues Liar. So law enforcement officers are in fear? Do you have a fire extinguisher at home? If so, you're in fear.

Where there is a right, need is not relevant.

So let's call it what it is: You're a frustrated control freak.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@Harvey @fishingblues Bullshit.  I have a shotgun in my home. (Is that carrying it?)  Someone breaks into my home in the middle of the night, I'm going to assume he is there for nefarious reasons.  Mr intruder - meet Mr. 12 gauge.  It happened.  One of us is dead.     

FilthyMcNasty
FilthyMcNasty

@ryan.cordova @fishingblues That's where you're wrong. There is nothing in the Stand Your Ground Law that says you have the ability to stalk anyone. You're obviously used to regurgitating propaganda spoon fed to you.

You are the model malleable tool.

JimTom
JimTom

@backoffimanidiot you bring it up everytime the word gun is mentioned.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@JimTom Careful JT:  jackoff will accuse you of bullying him and he'llll tellllllll.   

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@JimTom My obsession?  You've brought it up three times in this whole thread.  I mentioned it once.  Your inability to move beyond that subject only shows everyone what's really on your mind.  Also, the statement, "is you twat too big for anything but the big ones," is shoddy and poorly-written.  Perhaps gripping a big gun makes you feel better about failing English.

JimTom
JimTom

@backofimanidiot you still haven't explained your obsession with penis size, is you twat too big for anything but the big ones?

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@JimTomYeah, that's why you started off one of your poorly-written posts with "I have an AR-15," as though that makes what you have to say any more relevant to the conversation.  Swing-and-a-miss.  You have to put your compensatory manhood out on the table before anything else, because what's lacking in your pants makes you feel insecure.

JimTom
JimTom

@BackOffImignorant Typical no response from a typical gun hater that is obsessed with penis size.

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@JimTom "I stopped reading after the first paragraph."  Story of your life, Jim?  If you stopped reading after the first paragraph ten minutes ago, have you just been staring at the wall and wishing someone would include you in the conversation?

JimTom
JimTom

@BackOffImStarving I have and AR-15 to protest my home and family from crazy "protesters" like the ones in Oakland. Am I nuts and afraid of shadows or is what I see and hear reported aren't real? Stick your head back in the sand so the world can kick your ass.

JimTom
JimTom

@BackOffImStarving why so interested in peoples penis size? You not getting any?

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@fishingblues @BackOffImStarving @Harvey

"Tell me where you live and I'll drop by some night.  Since you are obviously anti-gun, we'll see if you can force me to leave with your self-perceived oratory skills. "  

Sounds like a threat to me.  You don't have to specifically state that you're bringing your firearm.  A firearm doesn't even have to be involved for one to consider what you said a criminal act.  It's clear what's between the lines, but "between the lines" is too abstract of a concept for you.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@BackOffImStarving @fishingblues @Harvey Speaking of reading comprehension problems, nowhere did I say I was going anywhere with a gun.  (All in your twisted and trouble-making little mind.)  

And why are you attempting to speak for Harve?

Golly jackoff, it it wasn't for the anonymity of the internet, you just couldn't pretend to be big and bad, could you?  You would not have lasted long growing up in my generation.   

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@fishingblues "Criminal threatening can be the result of verbal threats of violence, physical conduct (such as hand gestures or raised fists), actual physical contact, or even simply the placing of an object or graffiti on the property of another person with the purpose of coercing or terrorizing." 

"'Terrorizing' generally means to cause alarm, fright, or dread in another person or inducing apprehension of violence from a hostile or threatening event, person or object."


Harvey
Harvey

@fishingblues @Harvey You have just confirmed your fears.  You wish to come, under cover of night with a gun to my private home, because you fear me in public during the light of day.  My impulse is to feel sad for you, but I don't.  The fact that you've already shot someone, only reinforces your justification of your fear.  You will eventually become the victim of it.  And we will feel nothing.

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@fishingblues "Tough being you isn't it"?  How about, "English speaking you are not."  Punctuation is important, fishingblues.  Maybe you can get a nice grammar book when you celebrate finishing the GED.

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@fishingblues @Harvey Threatening others, even in an online forum, can be considered Criminal Threatening, which is a misdemeanor.  It's a felony if you actually threaten the use of a firearm.  Would you care to reconsider your words, fishingblues?

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@BackOffImStarving @Harvey Jackoff, you have nothing but a big mouth.  Tough being you isn't it.  Gone through your entire miserable life as the biggest pussy around.  No wonder you changed teams.  

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@Harvey @fishingblues Here's a thought Harve.  Tell me where you live and I'll drop by some night.  Since you are obviously anti-gun, we'll see if you can force me to leave with your self-perceived oratory skills.   

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@Harvey Fishingblues lives in a state of fear.  His lack of education and physical prowess causes him to have an insatiable need to own an brandish something powerful and destructive to do what he unable to do with his mind and body.

Harvey
Harvey

@fishingblues @Harvey And you had the gun to hunt birds because they are physically superior to you.  They are faster and can take flight.  If you did not fear your physical inadequacies, you'd use a net or catch them with your bare hands.  You clearly live a fear-driven life, which is ok, it's your legal right.  And everything you kill with a gun justifies and reinforces it.  It's ok, society has provided for you.  No need to get defensive.

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@fishingblues Some youth own guns to intimidate others and gain respect, and these youth also have very high rates of antisocial behavior.[6] Especially in youth gangs, guns are used to project and protect a tough image.[7]Juvenile offenders aren’t the only ones who use guns to intimidate others. A U.S. survey found that guns in the home are more likely to be used by men to intimidate women than against strangers. 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-psyched/201208/the-tradeoffs-gun-ownership-0

You're definitely compensating for something there, fishingblues.  What is it, exactly?

Harvey
Harvey

@fishingblues @Harvey Precisely.  He is dead because you had a shotgun, which you had because you feared that someone physically bigger and stronger would invade your home and take your life.  It's the same defense George Zimmerman used, the "weak and soft defense".  It's your legal right.   Don't run from it.  Embrace your fear.

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@fishingblues  I thought I was Nimrod, builder of the Tower of Babel.  You're learning.  Did you get a thesaurus to celebrate your sweet 16?

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@fishingblues One way to keep guns out of the hands of morons like fishingblues here is to offer an intelligence test before an FFL will sell a firearm.  Tell him to put something in the corner of a round room, and he will never pass.

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