California has a self-defense law that similar to Florida’s stand your ground law that George Zimmerman used to gain acquittal on charges he murdered Trayvon Martin, a local prosecutor said yesterday.
President Obama said yesterday that states should re-evaluate their stand your ground laws and celebrities such as Stevie Wonder are saying they won’t perform in states with such laws.
But Marc Buller, a Santa Clara County assistant district attorney said yesterday that California law also makes strong provisions to protect those who act in self defense.
Unlike some places in United States, including Hawaii and Iowa, California has no “duty to retreat” law, which only allows a person to use deadly force against another when they can’t get away or when running away, called “retreating”, puts the person being attacked in more danger.
Killing can be justified in some cases
“The (California) law says that if you are in imminent danger of death or injury you don’t have to retreat,” Buller said.
The law even goes so far as to say that one person can justifiably kill someone else, if they believe the person attacking them could inflict life-threatening injury or death.
“The law says you can defend yourself. That’s justifiable homicide”, Buller said. The catch, Buller said, is that a person is only allowed to use as much deadly force as is necessary to stop the attack.
‘A reasonable fear’
Also, if the case goes to trial, defense attorneys have to convince the jury that a killing in self-defense came from a “reasonable” fear of serious harm or death, according to Buller.
Zimmerman’s lawyers argued that their clients had a fear of serious harm from Martin.
“The general rule is that if someone were to attack you, you don’t need to retreat if you are not the aggressor,” Buller said.
According to Buller, California juries are instructed at the start of the trial that person who his attack does not have to retreat from their attacker and can try to stop them with force.