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An Interesting Part of Florida Law

Our opponents have been busy all weekend tweeting to anyone who does or doesn’t want to listen to them that George Zimmerman is out on the street because of the dangerous NRA shoot first law, which legalizes murder, you know. Aside from the hyperbole, the section of Florida Law at issue here, which was part of the Castle Doctrine law passed not terribly long ago is as follows:

(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful.

I am going to argue that this passage is relatively meaningless. Standard procedures would be to take the shooter into custody for questioning, which was done in this case. Zimmerman was then released because no probable caused existed to hold him. The standard for an arrest or to be charged with a crime has always been probable cause. So what does this change really? It seems to me all this does is codify what’s already generally law.

12 Responses to “An Interesting Part of Florida Law”

  1. Weer'd Beard says:

    +1. Also I suspect Zimmerman will end up doing time for this (tho I say this knowing that there are a lot of lies floating around this case, so it could be I’m 100% wrong)

    Certainly Zimmerman is not being protected by the Castle Doctrine from the risk of murder charges.

    This story is being touted by the antis as a reason why we shouldn’t have castle doctrines, but I think its just the opposite.

  2. Diane says:

    Stand your ground should have protected Trayvon because he was the one who was being pursued by an armed attacker.

    I’d love to see the forensic evidence from this case. (Blood spatters, etc.) Did they even collect Zimmerman’s clothes?

    • I suspect that the blood on the back of Zimmerman’s head, and the witness who reported that Zimmerman was on his back, on the ground, and Martin was on top, pretty well clinched it for the investigators. Zimmerman may well have been aggressive and confrontational without reason, but short of Zimmerman grabbing hold of Martin and then falling backward hard enough to injure himself in this manner, I can see why the Sanford police decided that there was reason to believe that Zimmerman was engaged in a lawful defense at the time he shot Martin, and that this would make any criminal conviction impossible.

      • HSR47 says:

        I’m not sure how this works in Florida, but here in Pennsylvania our stand your ground law doesn’t cover you if you incite an incident as Zimmerman appears to have done.

  3. Scott Connors says:

    I think that this issue will be decided by whom initiated the confrontation. Was it Zimmerman, when he followed Martin against the advice of the police dispatcher, if he approached Martin aggressively (it is reported that Zimmerman has a history of being overly aggressive in his watch activities) or was it Martin, when he noticed Zimmerman following him and confronted and beat him over it? Or are both parties guilty of exceedingly poor judgement? Unfortunately, it appears as if the facts in the case are becoming increasingly irrelevant. It looks to me that groups like the New Black Liberation Militia and professional agitprops like Al Sharpton see this as a way of getting even for the years of lynching and other injustices black people endured.

  4. Eric says:

    The question is who initiated the violent confrontation. Many commentators (on other sites) are taking issue with Zimmerman approaching the kid. There is nothing wrong with that. You are free to approach a person and ask them who they are. That person is free to answer or ignore you. The question is who first used physical force (or threatened force). If the kid ignored him or told him to f-off, and Zimmerman grabbed him or threatened to do so, then Zimmerman did not act in self-defense. If Zimmerman grabbed first, then the kid had every right to fight back. It all depends on who made the first threatening move.

    • Diane says:

      “Where are you from?” That’s gang code and I think most urban kids know it. http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/24/opinion/oe-beck24

      Why is a 20-something Hispanic wearing gang colors (red) asking anyone anything? That cell phone call? As far as Trayvon knew, Zimmerman could have been calling his homies looking for reinforcements.

      Why would Trayvon run away from Zimmerman in the first place? Did Zimmerman flash his gun?

      Sorry, but I see too many reasons for Trayvon to have been on the defensive. Too bad he didn’t live because he could have answered a lot of questions. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if someone produces a youtube video from that night.

      • Sebastian says:

        That’s one reason this case is tragic. Martin may very well have had a good faith belief he was defending himself when he got into the scuffle with Zimmerman… if someone were perusing me in the manner Zimmerman was pursing Martin, I would be in an extremely alert state, and expecting I’m going to be attacked.

        The real problem in this case is there doesn’t seem to be any reliable witnesses that saw how the whole thing developed and ultimately went down. From the sounds of it, there are bits and pieces. If none of those bits and pieces can disprove Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense, it’s going to be difficult to get this to trial, let alone a conviction. My feeling is that the state should finish its investigation, then take whatever it has before a grand jury.

  5. Kitty from PA says:

    Poor kid should have had his own semi auto and the minute the scary creepy fat man came at him and reached anywhere on his body … well, you know the rest of the story … throw in the reasonable fear and the person in the best position to contradict the kid gone … presto! … you’ve got a good shoot junior, great job …. uh ! … well, then again you’re black, male, a teenager, and don’t live here and to boot you’re wearing a hoody and all … nope … you’re going to the pokey gumbi with 10% being 200G son …

  6. Brad says:

    Holy crap! Did anyone else see this outrageous report from Monday on PBS? Check out what is said beginning at the 7 minute mark…

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/jan-june12/floridakilling_03-19.html

    What amazing demagoguery! Robles, the supposed reporter from the Miami Herald, claims that the Florida ‘stand your ground’ law, allows drug dealers in a shootout to kill bystanders caught in the crossfire.

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