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Addie Rolnick, law professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Yvette Williams, chair of Clark County Democratic Black Caucus
Nevada vs. Florida: Stand Your Ground Laws
George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case has sparked a national debate about “stand your ground laws” – the right of a citizen to use force in self defense if he believes his life is threatened.
Nevada’s self-defense law is in many ways similar to Florida’s, says University of Nevada, Las Vegas law professor Addie Rolnick.
“Both have the stand your ground provision that says normally you have to retreat first before you use deadly force. In your home you don’t, and in the street you don’t either in a number of situations,” says Rolnick.
The difference between Florida and Nevada, she says, is that in Nevada you can’t (use deadly force) if you start the fight. "But in Florida, if you start the fight you can still use deadly force in self defense as long as you start to fear for your life after.” It’s an exception that she says was a key factor in the George Zimmerman case.
The other important difference in Nevada and Florida laws, also factoring into the Zimmerman trial, is that, in Florida, once the claim of self defense is made, the burden shifts to the prosecution to disprove that self defense was warranted.