To Shoot or Not to Shoot?

When faced with imminent danger, the “Stand Your Ground” law is designed to protect your right to self-defense.

But last week, when a man opened fire on his own car as another person stole it and sped off we got to thinking, how far does that protection go?

In that case law enforcement says no one was injured by those gunshots, but had the person stealing the car been killed experts like Savannah Law Associate Professor Elizabeth Berenguer believe the man who started out the victim of a car theft, could have ended up the one on the wrong side of the law.

“The Georgia courts generally interpret the law, to be limited in the use of deadly force only when the person who is using deadly force is going to be attacked personally,” said Berenguer.

However, Berenguer said sometimes, Stand Your Ground almost gives too much leeway.

For example, she said in some states (not including Georgia) if a would-be assailant begins to flee, Stand Your Ground could protect a civilian who still opens fire on the suspect, but in a similar situation, trained law enforcement officers don’t always have the same right to use deadly force.

Just because someone claims Stand Your Ground or self-defense doesn’t automatically mean they’re getting away with shooting someone though.

Berenguer explained that typically in a Stand Your Ground case, like the one with Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, you still must go to court and prove that you were not the aggressor (or made an attempt to peacefully deescalate the situation) and were truly trying to protect yourself.

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