“Stand Your Ground” Law Ruled Unconstitutional Five Years after Trayvon Martin Case

A Miami judge has ruled that Florida’s updated “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law, known nationally in part due to the Trayvon Martin case, is unconstitutional. The verdict of this ruling comes five years after the ruling of George Zimmerman’s acquittal for Trayvon Martin’s murder.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch ruled that lawmakers overstepped their authority in modifying the law this year to force prosecutors to disprove a defendant’s self-defense claim at a pre-trial hearing – The Miami Herald reports. Judge Hirsch’s ruling is seen as a huge victory for prosecutors who opposed the “Stand Your Ground” law on the defense that the believed it gave defendants an unjust upper hand with getting away with violent crimes and murder.

The Florida “Stand Your Ground” law has been met with a lot of controversy since its inception and being put on a nationwide stage during Martin and Zimmerman’s case, since that was Zimmerman’s defense. According to the law, “a person is justified in the use of deadly force and has no duty to retreat if the person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself, or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

The biggest difference between “Stand Your Ground” and self-defense as the law in most states defines it is that “Stand Your Ground” completely overlooks a citizen’s “duty to retreat.” Self-defense comes into play when a person has attempted to “retreat” or leave the scene, while “Stand Your Ground” basically allows the citizen to just kill someone if they feel threatened without making an effort or move to leave.

The update to the “Stand Your Ground” law was added to the law in May and backed by the NRA.

While Hirsch’s ruling is reportedly not binding due to other trial courts in Florida being able to individually follow the law if they so choose, Hirsch’s move will definitely start to “get the appeals ball rolling” and might possibly get things handed over to the Florida Supreme Court to get it stopped altogether.

Photo Credit: The Miami Herald/Roberto Koltun

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.