George Zimmerman's attorney explains Florida's 'stand your ground' law

Mark O'Mara says 'reasonable fear' of great bodily harm is key to law

ORLANDO, Fla. – Top Orlando defense attorney Mark O’Mara told News 6 that in his view, Florida’s "stand your ground"
law tests a person’s reaction under stress, exposing a possible flaw in the self-defense statute.

“The standard that is supposed to be applied is whether or not your fear was reasonable under the circumstances, as you perceived them,” O’Mara said.

Under the current statute, revised in 2012, the state prosecution must disprove self-defense by clear and convincing evidence or the defendant goes free.

“I think the law does the best job it can do because you’ll never know if you acted reasonably until it’s too late,” O'Mara said.

Simply put, “stand your ground” is a no-retreat statute, according to O’Mara, it provides self-defense immunity.

The statute states you should be immune from prosecution both criminal and civil if you believed you were in danger of great bodily harm.

The language reads in part:

“A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use 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.”

O’Mara, who famously defended George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013, said because Zimmerman had no opportunity to retreat, “there wasn’t a stand your ground case because there was no standing of ground.”

O’Mara stressed that no one is allowed to use deadly force in this state or any other, “unless it is for protection of an absolute necessary right: The right of survival of yourself or the right of survival of others."

If that exists, according to O’Mara,  you should be immune from prosecution.

When asked if there was language in the current stand your ground legislation he would change he pointed to the notion of no retreat.

“I think people now look at that statute and say, 'I can shoot if I feel like it,'” O’Mara said. “That’s a very dangerous perspective for people to have.”

O’Mara would like to see an addendum to the law that would simply read: ”Without putting yourself at risk, try and get out of it rather than shoot.”

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