PORTLAND -- The killing of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent not guilty verdict in trial of George Zimmerman has raised a series of questions around the country about self defense and the use of deadly force.
Oregon's law on deadly force is different than Florida's Stand Your Ground law, which played a significant part in Zimmerman's claim of self defense.
The problem with the Zimmerman case, and the people in Oregon watching it, is they are probably more familiar with Florida's Law than Oregon's, and that's a danger, said Portland attorney Bruce McCain.
Florida's Stand Your Ground law says you can use deadly force outside your home if you fear for your life even if you have the ability to retreat.
Stand Your Ground has been interpreted to allow the use of deadly force, sometimes even if a person somehow provokes the attack.
In Oregon, the law is not so kind to those who may initiate confrontations.
Generally, if you pick a fight in Oregon and find yourself losing, you're going to have a hard time justifying deadly physical force, said McCain. Florida on the other hand, expressly states you can meet force with force including deadly physical force with no duty to retreat.
There's another big difference between Oregon and Florida when it comes to felony trials.There were only six jurors in the Zimmerman case, half of what's required in Oregon felony trials.
Oregon only allows six person juries in misdemeanors because the idea is you'd rather have a larger body of citizen jurors to make important decisions, especially on a murder trial, said McCain.
Washington state, however, has a law that is very similar to Florida's Stand Your Ground law. The law in Washington is different though in that it is a case law, evolved from decisions made by judges. Florida's Stand Your Ground is a statutory, or written law, meaning it's issued by the government.
For more information about Oregon's Physical Force Laws visit the links below.
For information on Florida's Stand Your Ground Law click here: www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm