‘Stand Your Ground’ law could come to Maryland

When George Zimmerman was on trial charged with murdering Trayvon Martin, Florida’s “stand your ground” law came into the national spotlight, even though Zimmerman was arguing innocence under other self-defense laws not “stand your ground.” Florida’s law allows people to use deadly force outside the home, rather than retreat, if they believe another is going to kill or seriously harm them. The law generated intense debate, with many vocal in support and opposition to it. A Maryland lawmakers believes that the state should have a “stand your ground law,” and is taking steps to change the law.

Proposed legislation in 2014

One Maryland delegate plans on proposing legislation in the 2014 session of the Maryland General Assembly that would change the state’s “duty to retreat” law to a “stand your ground” law. Currently, Maryland’s law obligates people to remove themselves from the situation when they are threatened with death or harm outside of their homes, if they can do so safely. Changing the law would mean that people could use deadly force to defend themselves in the face of serious threats, even if they could get away safely.

The delegate claims that rising crime rates in the state require the change to the law. He believes that the current law does not protect the state’s residents enough and they should have the right to defend themselves more. The delegate believes that Maryland should join the majority of states in passing a “stand your ground” law. Currently, Maryland is one of approximately one dozen states with “duty to retreat” laws, while almost double that number have “stand your ground” laws.

Maryland self defense laws

Those who oppose changing the state’s “duty to retreat” law argue that there is enough leeway in the duty to retreat that people are protected, since the opportunity to escape must be clear, and people must have the ability to use it. However, people are still vulnerable to charges under the doctrine of “imperfect self-defense,” where people are accused of responding to threats with disproportional force if they are unable to safely escape threatening situations and must resort to force.

Speak with an attorney

While Maryland’s lawmakers are debating changing the state’s self defense laws, people still face serious criminal charges for using deadly force outside of their homes. Violent situations can erupt when people least expect it, with dire consequences. People could end up facing assault, manslaughter or murder charges. If you have been involved in a dangerous situation and needed to use violence, speak with a criminal defense attorney who can provide aggressive defense and protect your rights.