Self-defense: Would Zimmerman verdict been different in California?
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Self-defense was a key issue in the George Zimmerman trail and has brought out a wide range of reactions from civilians all over the country.
The case has drawn attention to self-defense laws around the country, including here in California.
Bakersfield Attorney Kyle Humphrey said he's defended clients in self-defense cases in past.
"Self-defense gives you the right in the face of your reasonable belief that you're about to suffer imminent harm, which is death or great bodily injury," Humphrey said. "Usually you have to have a really good case for it to work. I think jurors are very careful to look and see whether your client's the initial aggressor."
Humphrey said in California, people are allowed to attribute lethal actions to self-defense, but it isn't as acceptable to do so as it may be in Florida, where the Zimmerman trial took place.
"The huge difference is, most people in California are educated enough to believe that you only use deadly force in the most deadly of situations, or a jury's gonna convict you," the attorney said.
Humphrey said he wasn't surprised when Zimmerman was found not guilty.
"The fact is, the system worked here. It worked for the person it was supposed to work for. These cases are not about victims. They're about whether the government, with all of its power and might and money and resources, is able to take the liberty of an accused person," said Humphrey.
Humphrey said he does not agree with the way Florida widely uses the "stand your ground law" as a case for self-defense, but, regardless, he and others should respect that it is a law and was held up in the Zimmerman trial.
"All these people out there right now demanding change," Humphrey said, "how easy will it be for their brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers to be prosecuted with less and less evidence and less and less right of defense?"
Humphrey said California is also a stand your ground state, but it is the difference in culture that keeps people from readily pulling the trigger, and the biggest reason he believes the verdict may have come out differently if Zimmerman had of shot Martin in California.
"In California, you encourage people, 'Hey you might be right, but it's gonna cost you a lot of money to pay your attorney to prove that, and you still can lose your house in a civil lawsuit,' whereas in Florida, you actually have encouraged people to push the limits," Humphrey said.