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From the category archives:

Criminal Law

Florida Cases Interpreting Section 776.041: Person Who "Initially Provoked" Incident May Not Claim Self Defense

April 15, 2012

In yesterday's post I discussed the effect of Section 776.041 of Florida law which codifies the common law rule that to claim self-defense a criminal defendant must not have been the aggressor. Under this statute George Zimmerman's guilt or innocence is likely to turn on whether the jury finds that he "initially provoked" the incident in which he shot [...]

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The Interplay of Sections 776.041 (Use of Force by Aggressor) and 776.013(3) (Stand Your Ground) in Zimmerman Case

April 14, 2012

The "Stand Your Ground" law explicitly provides that a person "has no duty to retreat" if he or she is "not engaged in an unlawful activity." However, another statute entitled "Use of Force by Aggressor" provides that if a person initially provokes the use of force then that person may not claim self-defense unless he [...]

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Investigators' Affidavit Emphasizes Zimmerman's Suspicion of Martin

April 13, 2012

Talking Points Memo has posted the affidavit filed by the special prosecutor's office explaining why there was probable cause to charge Zimmerman with second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

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Zimmerman's Low Burden of Proof on the Issue of Self Defense

April 13, 2012

In her news conference announcing that George Zimmerman was being charged with second degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey mentioned several times that self-defense is an "affirmative defense" under Florida law. She also said that "Stand Your Ground" is "a tough affirmative defense to overcome." It will be [...]

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Florida Statutes on Second Degree Murder and Manslaughter

April 12, 2012

George Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder, which carries a possible penalty of life in prison. A possible lesser charge is manslaughter, for which he could be sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. This post sets forth the relevant Florida statutes on homocide.

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The "Stand Your Ground" Statute: Not a Criminal Law But a Political Statement

March 24, 2012

I don't wish to comment specifically on the killing of Trayvon Martin until the investigation has been completed.  It now appears that this matter has been turned over to capable state and federal investigators.  Once all the facts are established there will be time to express opinions about that specific case.  However, the state statute [...]

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Poverty and Crime

March 9, 2012

Reports from the Pew Research Center and the National Center for Children in Poverty make for depressing reading.  The statistics regarding poverty and crime are astonishing and a shameful reflection on our society.

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Crime Statistics: Reductions in Crime, Geographic Distribution, and Circumstances of Theft

December 9, 2011

Crime rates have dropped dramatically over the last two decades.

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Life in Prison for Fourth Marijuana Conviction

May 9, 2011

Louisiana sentences a small-time marijuana dealer to life in prison.

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What the judge ate for breakfast

April 13, 2011

This chart shows your chances of parole plotted against 

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Looting After the Tsu-nuke-quake

March 16, 2011

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there were reports of widespread looting in New Orleans, and in the debate about the justification for looting, arguments tend to revolve around whether the behavior in question is perceived as exploitive criminality, for which a law enforcement crackdown would be in order, or foraging for necessities in extreme circumstances, [...]

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Celebrity Court Radio on Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, and Kelley Williams-Bolar

March 4, 2011

The current ABA Journal has an article about Elizabeth Kelley, a Cleveland solo with a weekly radio show on celebrity legal stories. Listen to her take on the legal problems of

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