By Tony Romeo
HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Pennsylvania’s “Stand Your Ground” law enacted a few years ago was modeled after the one in Florida made infamous by the Zimmerman trial (see related story).
But it is different in critical ways, and is not as broad as Florida’s law.
Joshu Harris (interviewed as a legal scholar with expertise on this issue and not in his capacity as an assistant DA in Philadelphia) says Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law is actually the basis for Pennsylvania’s law but was modified in several ways, including one important difference sought by law enforcement.
“What happened was, the law enforcement community which pushed for this amendment actually called upon the experience that Florida had had,” Harris notes.
That experience was that in Florida, the person wounded or killed in “Stand Your Ground” cases was often unarmed. In Pennsylvania, the law requires that outside the home, a person invoking “Stand Your Ground” must see a deadly weapon, not merely feel threatened.
Harris notes, however, that even though Trayvon Martin was unarmed, the defense claimed George Zimmerman was in a deadly confrontation.
And Harris says Pennsylvania law is different in other ways, as well. He says Florida’s law provides more civil immunity for defendants, and he says that in Pennsylvania, police would not have been required to release George Zimmerman on the night of the incident.