Stand Your Ground laws are laws enacted in many states that allow for individuals to shoot another individual in the event that they believe their life is in jeopardy. The laws have caused controversy across the United States, as some believe the laws encourage violence, or may be a way to hide murder in act of self-defense. Here, criminal defense attorney Rahul Balaram discusses how Stand Your Ground laws work without allowing criminal activity to fall through the cracks.
Stand Your Ground – Definition
To begin, it is crucial to understand the definition of Stand Your Ground laws and the theory behind them. Most Stand Your Ground laws stem from the concept of “duty to retreat”. Most states uphold “duty to retreat,” which is the concept that a person who is in danger must first attempt to retreat from a situation as much as they can before they respond in acts of self-defense. In simpler terms, or fight vs. flight, one must try to flee or hide before they decide to fight the attacker. Some states vary on whether or not the duty to retreat must be enacted before one is allowed to stand their ground.
Stand Your Ground laws also follow similar laws that have been in place for many years, known as Castle Doctrine. The basis of Castle Doctrine is that a person does not need to retreat and may stand their ground immediately if their home or place of business is in imminent danger.
The criticism around Stand Your Ground laws typically stems from people believing that it invokes a “Shoot now, ask questions later” mentality. People believe that it leads to more violence, deaths, and injuries, as individuals are allowed to shoot without any or minimal repercussions. Some of the critics believe that Stand Your Ground laws allow for criminal activity to occur, as some states will dismiss any charges or not prosecute altogether if Stand Your Ground is invoked. Critics believe that criminals will be able to get away with murder and other activity by simply stating they were abiding by Stand Your Ground and that they will not be charged.
How It Really Works
While the laws vary from state to state, most states require proof that a victim made an honest attempt to leave to scene or acted in defense truly for their own safety and wellbeing. Most Stand Your Ground laws also are specific in where their jurisdiction applies. As the laws are designed with the idea in mind to protect oneself in the event of robbery, theft, burglary, or other dangerous scenarios, generally the jurisdiction of the laws promotes protection within an individual’s household or vehicle. Some states expand into any place that one may in danger, but not all.
As a result, Stand Your Ground laws may prevent criminal activity from occurring as the situation must be clear that the person who acted in “self-defense” was truly at risk for their life or wellbeing. While it may seem that violence may increase as more individuals are allowed to carry a gun as protection, overall the goal of the laws is to deter dangerous crimes by allowing individuals to protect themselves in a moment’s notice without having to take time to think of alternatives.
About Rahul Balaram:
Rahul Balaram is an experienced and dedicated attorney that has represented hundreds of clients. Mr. Balaram takes pride in ensuring his clients are aware of every aspect of their case and that their interests are presented with dignity, compassion, and competence.
Rahul opened the Balaram Law Office in Santa Rosa and is widely known for his excellent trial skills, his unrelenting work on behalf of his clients, and the outstanding results that his clients receive.