BLACK VOICES
07/16/2013 01:40 pm ET Updated 4 days ago

'Stand Your Ground' Laws Expanding Quickly Across U.S. (INFOGRAPHIC)

George Zimmerman's defense lawyers did not invoke Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law in his criminal trial, but his "justifiable use" of deadly force, as defined by state courts, likely played a role in the jurors' decision not to convict him of second-degree murder or manslaughter in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Judge Debra Nelson, who presided over the Zimmerman trial, instructed the jurors when dismissing them to deliberate:

"If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force."

Zimmerman's acquittal has unleashed a new wave of outrage over Florida's "Stand Your Ground" legislation and other state laws that extend protections outside the home to those who use deadly weapons in self-defense, often with no requirement they retreat from the perceived threat.

A rash of states have adopted some form of "Stand Your Ground" in the past decade. Like most of these state laws, Florida's grants civil immunity to people found in criminal court to have acted lawfully. The Martin family's lawyer says they are considering a wrongful-death civil suit against Zimmerman, but the law will probably stop this from happening.

Infographic by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post.

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