If the judge rules that STAND YOUR GROUND applies... All charges will be dropped and the colored folks will be rioting in the streets!
Lawyers for George Zimmerman, accused in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, will seek a hearing under Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law that could result in the dismissal of all criminal charges.
Zimmerman’s defense team is using the controversial state law -- which allows the use of deadly force when someone fears severe injury or death -- because there is “clear support for a strong claim of self-defense,” lawyer Mark O’Mara wrote on the defense’s website.
Zimmerman, 28, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder. He has said that shooting Martin on a rainy February night was an act of self-defense, sparked by a fight that the teenager provoked. Martin, 17, was unarmed.
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The hearing will likely occur in a few months, and the judge who has overseen much of the legal process thus far, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr., is expected to preside. The hearing will be open, and much will seem like a mini-trial, including evidence from prosecutors and testimony from experts.
But traditional trial structure is flipped on its head in a "stand your ground" hearing. A judge, not a jury, decides the outcome. The burden of proof lies with the defense, not the prosecution. And the threshold of what needs to be proved is much lower.
In a criminal trial, prosecutors must prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In a "stand your ground" hearing, defense lawyers show “a preponderance of the evidence” -- that is, show with at least 50.1% certainty that Zimmerman “reasonably believed” he would be killed or would suffer serious injury.
A "stand your ground" hearing is essentially “a second bite at the apple,” said Eric Schwartzreich, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. If the judge rules against the defendant, the case will still go to trial. If the charges are dismissed, Zimmerman will receive immunity from future prosecution in Martin’s death.
“If you win the hearing, it’s game over,” said Schwartzreich, who's represented multiple "stand your ground" defendants since the law passed in 2005. “If you lose, then you make the same argument to the jury.”
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