Zimmerman’s Latest and Stand Your Ground


George Zimmerman continues to make headlines in Florida and across the nation.  According to a recent article published by Fox News, the Seminole County Sheriff’s office confirmed that George Zimmerman was arrested Monday, November 18th, when deputies responded to the report of a disturbance in Topfield Court near Apopka.  The incident involved Zimmerman and his new girlfriend, who is accusing him of domestic violence.  Zimmerman was booked at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility, but was later released.  The Judge presiding over the bail hearing made sure to warn Zimmerman to stay away from firearms.

Of course, Zimmerman’s notoriety stems from the shooting incident involving teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012.  After going to trial on the case, Zimmerman was acquitted in July of all charges connected with the incident.  The case caused divided opinions across the nation as to Zimmerman’s guilt.  Since Martin was African-American and was unarmed at the time of the shooting, the issues of race and self-defense were at the forefront of debate. Zimmerman said he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense during a fight inside a gated community in Sanford, Florida.

This latest arrest is just Zimmerman’s most recent brush with the law since his acquittal.  In September, just days after Zimmerman’s now estranged wife filed for divorce, the couple was involved in a domestic dispute that required police involvement.  However, charges were not filed as a result of that incident because police said there was a lack of evidence. He has also been stopped by law enforcement on three different occasions since his acquittal for traffic violations on Florida roadways, two of which involved speeding.

 Stand Your Ground Law in Florida

The Zimmerman case also brought up Florida’s stand your ground law, as it was relevant in Zimmerman’s actions and law enforcement’s initial decision not to arrest him; it also brought with it a myriad of divided opinions and analyses from across the country.  The law allows people to use deadly force if they reasonably fear for their safety.  Many demanded changes in the law since the Zimmerman trial.  According to Huffington Post, the effort, sponsored by Democrat Alan Williams of Tallahassee, to repeal the stand your ground law failed earlier this month, reigniting the controversy over the law and its relationship to the Trayvon Martin murder trial.

After taking testimony for almost five hours over Williams’s bill to repeal the law, the Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee rejected it in an 11-2 vote.  The law says that people can use any level of force, including gunfire, when they have a reasonable fear for their lives or safety. In 2005, Florida became the first of more than 20 states to remove the legal responsibility to retreat from a dangerous situation, when possible.

The arguments for the repeal centered on discrimination and racial prejudice.  During the testimony, Dale Landry, the head of the local NAACP branch, said the law disproportionately affects minorities because African-Americans are irrationally seen as threatening by others, even if they pose no threat at all.  Others said the law is grounded in fear, prejudice, and hate.  On the other side, supporters of the law maintain that Florida’s crime rate has declined since it was adopted.  Marion Hammer, a lobbyist for Unified Sportsmen of Florida and a former two-term president of the National Rifle Association, told the committee that requiring people to retreat who are in danger of being attacked rather than allowing them to respond with force “places more value on the life of the attacker than on the life of the victim.” A bill is still alive in the Florida Senate to clarify some provisions of the law, but not repeal it. If it passes that chamber, it would still have to pass the House.

Criminal law is a complex area of law, and one in which an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney is invaluable. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in Florida, contact us today to discuss your case and have your rights protected.