No, Florida's Stand Your Ground Law Did Not Determine Either Zimmerman or Dunn Cases


Yet that is no way unique to Florida or stand your ground laws. The most common example is when someone is confronted with what turns out to be a toy gun, he or she still has the right to use deadly force in any state if he or she "reasonably" believed the weapon was real, even if turns out there was no actual threat.

Others mistakenly claim these are "stand your ground" cases because the entire self defense statute is read to Florida jurors with the stand your ground language included. But, of course, reading jury instructions with some language that is inapplicable to the case at hand is common in all types of cases and says nothing about whether the controversial aspects of the law are at issue.

Yet others note that certain jurors in the Zimmerman case, for example, cited the stand your ground law to explain their verdict. The inexact language of jurors doesn't change the reality that the law would have been the same in any other state and that none of the controversial parts of the law were relevant.

The only state with a significantly different law when it comes to classic self defense is Ohio where rather than the prosecution having the burden of proof, a defendant who claims self-defense adopts the burden to prove the case. There is no question that placing the burden on the defendant can make a conviction far easier.

Is it possible that gun owners in Florida feel more emboldened to use their weapons because of the expansive protections embedded in the law? Sure, but that does not change the legal analysis.

Is it possible that Dunn not having a duty to retreat made his defense slightly stronger? It's theoretically possible, but based on the facts presented it becomes just that, theoretical.

I am no fan of stand your ground laws but I am a fan of accuracy when it comes to sensitive and potentially explosive trials and verdicts.

Dan Abrams is ABC News' Chief Legal Correspondent and Anchor of "Nightline."

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