'Make My Day' vs. 'Stand Your Ground' compared

Local attorney relates Colorado, Florida laws to recent Zimmerman case

POSTED: 08:26 PM MDT Jul 17, 2013    UPDATED: 08:57 PM MDT Jul 17, 2013 
PUEBLO, Colorado -

Similar laws in Colorado and Florida that give citizens the right to use force in self-defense also have key differences, a Pueblo defense attorney said Wednesday.

Cobea Becker of Becker & Ernst, LLC, said Florida's 8-year-old "stand your ground" law protected George Zimmerman from a conviction on criminal charges in the controversial death of teenager Trayvon Martin because the law is broad and can be applied to various situations.

Conversely, Colorado's "make my day" law applies only to defendants who are confronted in their homes or vehicles.

"Here, we have the initial aggressor law that goes to negate the use of self-defense," said Becker.  "If you're the person who's following somebody or you're the initial aggressor, you take the first punch, you're not allowed to use self-defense."

Becker said the initial aggressor law makes it unlikely that Colorado will have an increase in cases similar to the Zimmerman case.  A recent study by the Tampa Tribune found that 70 percent of defendants charged under the Florida law were acquitted, and a third were found to be the initial aggressors.

The study also found that the Florida law led to a threefold increase in applications for concealed weapons permits.

Becker said the Florida law is supposed to grant immunity from prosecution to anyone charged.  However, prosecutors made an exception with Zimmerman, and she said she hasn't studied the case enough to determine why.

Bill Smith, a gun owner visiting Pueblo's Riverwalk on Wednesday, said he agrees with many in Florida's legal community that the law should be repealed.

"I might help someone out if someone was being hurt, or if there were three guys on one guy," he said.  "Otherwise, I'm not going to confront someone and I'm not going to shoot first."