The Justifiable Use of Force
law, Florida 776
, apparently has at least two functions. It guides a judge in making up a special jury instruction for cases where self defense might be used as a justification of force used and it can also guide a judge in other hearings related to the use of force (sections .032 and .085). I will restrict this to trying to understand what it says about justification for use of deadly force
in the Zimmerman case as considered at the immunity hearing. The main thing it repeats, in one form or another, several times is, JUDF
- 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.
The list of forcible felonies is given is section .08. In section .012, JUDF is given without restriction with the added bonus that the user of JUDF had no duty to retreat. JUDF and the bonus are again given in .013(3) but this time with the restriction that it applies to, "A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be". I believe that the word other was inserted because most of .013 is about home protection.
In .041, JUDF, without the part about forcible felonies and the bonus, is granted to "aggressors". Apparently the latter means people who are committing or escaping from a forcible felony or somebody who "Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself". No explanation is given for this quoted phrase in 776 and those who have read this thread will agree, I think, that an elucidation is highly desirable. It is also emphasized in .041 that such "aggressors", who intend to use JUDF have to actively not
stand their ground, i.e. attempt to escape or tell the assailant they give up.
.032 says that those who use JUDF according to .012, .012, 0.31 (latter not applicable in Martin/Zimmerman) are immune from criminal and civil action. It doesn't spell out that this must be done in a hearing before a judge and decided by a preponderance of evidence. Where is that spelled out? What I have just gone through shows that confusion may reign at a hearing concerning .032. Will the issue of Zimmerman being the initial provoker have to be disposed of negatively in order for him to get .032 immunity? If so, by what standard of proof? If O'Mara argues it is irrelevant since Zimmerman gets JUDF under .012, then why have the exceptions to JUDF mentioned in.013(3) and .041 of 776?
I hope I have at least explained why I am still confused.