According to recent findings from the ABA National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws, the task force found that states which have some type of stand your ground law have an increase of 8% in homicide rates and that these laws are biased towards racial minorities. There also appears to be widespread confusion among law enforcement as to just what the laws mean and what actions are considered self-defense and which are unjustified. The task force is recommending that states with such laws repeal them and that states stay away from enacting them in the first place because they give people the wrong idea that they can go around using deadly force on another person in public areas.
Right now there are approximately 33 states with stand your ground laws. Stand your ground laws got attention when Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012 in Florida by George Zimmerman, who was later found not guilty of murder in 2013. The task force found that in many instances persons who stood their grounds went beyond the scope of the law even when they were threatened or in immediate danger and that most persons who were killed were unarmed.
New York Defense of Justification Laws
While stand your ground laws vary among the states, New York has a similar law known as “defense of justification laws under Article 35 of the New York Penal Code. Under Subsection 2 of Article 35, a person may not use deadly force on another person unless the person reasonably believes that the other person is using or about to use deadly physical force. Also, the person may not use deadly force if they are able to retreat. This differs greatly from the Florida law which was meant to cover situations when you are in your own home. The Treyvon Martin case went beyond the scope of the Florida stand your ground law and extended the boundaries to public areas. New York Statute 35 does also state that justification in the defense of another person can also be used as a defense.
New York’s defense of justification laws should be taken seriously. You should not think that you can shoot someone and your actions are going to be justified. There is a chance that you could face charges of homicide or voluntary manslaughter resulting from your actions. It is important that you understand your rights and how they relate to staying safe in your own home or in a public place.
If you are being questioned by law enforcement regarding a defense of justification act, it is important not to say anything that may incriminate you and to contact a qualified New York criminal defense attorney immediately.