Friday, April 13, 2018

ID: Stand Your Ground Bill Clarifies Law

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Idaho bill SB 1313 was enacted into law. It became law without Governor Otter's signature when he failed to veto it. The new law will take effect on 1 July, 2018.  The law qualifies as a "stand your ground" law, consistent with the law in 70% of the states.

The law made relatively minor adjustments in the law of self defense in Idaho. It clarified when homicide was justifiable, adding places of business and conveyances as places with the current protections for habitations.

In Idaho, the law already defined as justifiable, homicide done to prevent a felony or while entering a habitation by violence or surprise.

SB 1313 extends that definition to include places of business or conveyances, and includes entering them by stealth as well as by violence or surprise.

The law also clarifies that a person who is attacked need not retreat before self defense is justified. As with nearly all states, it is the burden of the prosecution to prove that a claimed use of force in self defense was *not* self defense. This is consistent with the principle that people in the United States are considered innocent until proven guilty.

The new law is part of a trend of states to enshrine the ability of United States citizens to defend themselves from attack, wherever they may legitimately be.

Wyoming passed a similar law on 14 March.  The Wyoming law will also take effect on 1 July 2018.

There are now 27 states with similar laws, and seven states which follow "stand your ground" in practice, although they do not have a single, specific, law in place. Three states have "stand your ground" limited to a person's vehicle outside of a person's home. There are 10 states that have a "duty to retreat" requirement in their self defense law.

Unsurprisingly, justifiable homicides were found to increase in states with "stand your ground" laws, while overall homicide rates dropped. From John Lott:

My research looked at all states that have enacted Stand Your Ground between 1977 and 2012, either through legislation or through court decisions. I consistently found subsequent drops in murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault rates. On average, murder rates fell by about 1.5 percent annually during the first 10 years that the law was in effect.
 These are exactly the results expected by those who are knowledgeable about the dynamics of self-defense. Reform the law to decrease the chance of self-defenders from being victimized by prosecutors. Fewer people will plead out in legitimate self-defense cases, showing up as more justified homicides. More criminals will find homicide a risky proposition, lowering the overall homicide rate.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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