Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Absurdity of "Get Away with Murder" Laws

The following is an illustration of the potentially serious problems posed by changes in no-retreat laws, the "Get Away with Murder" laws:

Imagine that a nine-year-old girl is playing with her dolls outside her home. In the house next door, a known drug-dealer, Red Rock, is selling drugs when he notices a rival drug-dealer, Yellow Man, with whom he had an earlier confrontation, coming down the street.  Red Rock retrieves a semiautomatic assault rifle to defend himself. Shots are exchanged, and in the aftermath, the little girl, once playing innocently, lies dead.

Both Red Rock and Yellow Man claim self-defense through the unprecedented changes in the Castle Doctrine law. (Although Red Rock was a criminal, a “prohibited person” can possess a firearm for short periods of time in matters of self-defense. So long as Red Rock did not own the firearm nor live in the residence where the firearm was located, he could invoke a legal defense under the expanded Castle Doctrine.)

If law enforcement cannot prove that Red Rock was engaged in an unlawful activity and that his fear of imminent bodily harm was unreasonable, he could claim self-defense. Likewise, assuming Yellow Man could legally possess a weapon, he would be justified in using a firearm in self-defense. This eliminates any legal recourse, civil or criminal, for the violent death of an innocent nine-year-old girl. Because the legislature provided blanket immunity for “self-defense,” courts are faced with situations
in which a deadly defense may be legally justified, even if negligently or recklessly executed.

On the other hand, if the Castle Doctrine had not been expanded, Red Rock would have been required to retreat to anarea—such as his home—that was safe. If he had done so,then innocent bystanders would have been spared even if theconfrontation had occurred.

Would this shooting have been avoided if the Castle Doctrine were not expanded? Perhaps not, but the family of the victim would have legal remedies, and the two perpetrators could be held responsible for their actions rather than using the Castle Doctrine as a shield from the criminal and civil justice systems.

Sadly, this scenario is not fictional. It is based on a 2006 homicide case in Miami-Dade County. Source: Expansions to the Castle Doctrine


  1. All you did was quote the fictional scenario from the source article. What, specifically, happened in the real world? Even if what you present is possible, that's easy to correct. Just add language that says that if you're engaged in criminal activity, you can't use the affirmative defense of Stand Your Ground, nor does the law protect you from harming innocent third parties.

    For a lawyer, you don't seem to understand the law.

  2. Mike,
    I'm afraid I've never heard of this exception to the federal law that allows felons to possess a firearm if needed for self defense. The law says possess, not own. That means holding or controlling it. Also, in places without a stand your ground law, like my home state of Minnesota, you are required to retreat if REASONABLY POSSIBLE.
    That is an important distinction.

    1. The requirement to retreat should be a given. Only with it do we recognize the value of life, even the life of a criminal or a person making threats.

    2. Mikeb, what you're doing there is valuing the life of criminals over good people.

  3. Here is our genius barrister's true take on the Zimmerman trial.

    via Southern Beale

    I also didn’t really follow the trial. I’m sure I would be totally upset at how screwed up it was.

    It doesn’t take too much brainpower to realise that Zimmerman was the aggressor and guilty of murder.

    Would he have followed Martin had Zimmerman not had a gun?

    There's a reason everybody hates that guy. What a dick!

    1. FJ, I usually like what you have to say but your recent attacks of Laci seem a bit over the top.

      To me it's a good question if Zimmerman had not been armed would he have pursued Martin?

    2. Flying Junior has it right here.

    3. Texas Colt carryJuly 15, 2013 at 4:32 PM

      What is it Mike, don't like the whole pot kettle thing?

  4. There goes my reputation...Again!