A much debated issue surrounding the George Zimmerman case was Florida's "stand your ground" law, which grants immunity to an individual who uses deadly force as a mode of self-protection.
States that adopt "stand your ground" laws generally indicate a person has no duty to retreat if they feel unlawfully threatened by another individual, regardless of where the person is.
If you use deadly force against someone when you feel unlawfully threatened by them, you are protected under these state laws.
The Sunlight Foundation used an automated textual analysis to compare these laws in different states. The tool takes online texts and compares them for identical wording and phrasing.
Out of all the states who have original legislation for "stand your ground" laws online, Michigan was the most similar to Florida.
Here is the text of Florida's law:
A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
(1) He or she reasonably believes that 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; or
(2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.
And here is Michigan's law -- 2006 Public Act 310:
Sec. 1. (1) An individual who uses deadly force or force other than deadly force in compliance with section 2 of the self-defense act and who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses that deadly force or force other than deadly force commits no crime in using that deadly force or force other than deadly force.
(2) If a prosecutor believes that an individual used deadly force or force other than deadly force that is unjustified under section 2 of the self-defense act, the prosecutor may charge the individual with a crime arising from that use of deadly force or force other than deadly force and shall present evidence to the judge or magistrate at the time of warrant issuance, at the time of any preliminary examination, and at the time of any trial establishing that the individual's actions were not justified under section 2 of the self-defense act.
The Sunlight Foundation's analysis found that after Florida passed its "stand your ground" law in 2005, a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) "adopted its legislative language as one of the model bills it proposes to legislators across the country on behalf of its member associations, in this case the NRA."
Michigan's law has 146 fragments that matched Florida's.
These are other states that adopted similar laws:
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
There are other states that take the "Castle doctrine" approach to self-defense. The name comes from the saying "a man's home is his castle."
States that use this approach say as long as you're on your own property, you have no duty to retreat if you feel threatened, and are thus protected by the state's Castle doctrine. There are subtleties that vary from state to state.
-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom