Although much of the recent controversy over the verdict in the Zimmerman trial has focused on the issue of race, there is no question that this case exemplified the extreme difference between Florida and New Jersey criminal statutes concerning gun possession and self-defense.
A large amount of the discussion of this case initially focused on Florida’s “Stand your Ground” law. To put it simply, in New Jersey, a person has a duty to retreat if they can safely do so prior to using force in self-defense, whereas in Florida, the “Stand your Ground” law specifically provides that there is no duty to retreat. Although Zimmerman could have argued successfully in New Jersey that he could not have safely retreated, it would have at least given the State another angle to dispute his self-defense claim.
Even more of a contrast is the extreme difference between New Jersey and Florida regarding Mr. Zimmerman’s ability to legally carry his handgun. In New Jersey it is illegal to carry a handgun without a permit, and virtually no private citizen can obtain a permit to carry. A violation of that statute is a Crime of Second Degree, which carries five (5) to ten (10) years in State Prison, with at least one-third of that sentence without parole.
So whether it would be the difference in self-defense laws, our 12-juror system vs. Florida’s 6-juror system, difference in homicide laws, or extreme contrast in gun laws, one thing is clear, George Zimmerman would not be walking away a free man in New Jersey.
Timothy Farrow, of Dash Farrow, LLP, is an experienced criminal defense attorney and former Prosecutor who handles these offenses and crimes, misdemeanors, and traffic offense of all levels. When you need experienced, focused, and responsive legal help, call Dash Farrow, LLP at 856-235-8300 or contact us online at www.dashfarrow.com. We serve individuals and businesses throughout Burlington and Camden County and all of South Jersey.