Wednesday, February 21, 2018

WY: "Stand Your Ground" bill Advances

On 15 February, 2018, a "Stand Your Ground" bill passed the Wyoming House with an overwhelming majority. Only one Republican voted against it.

The bill, HB 168, passed the House 51 to 8. 49 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted for the bill.   7 Democrats and 1 Republican voted against the bill. One Republican was excused during the vote.

Representative Bob Nicholas was the sole Republican voting against the popular measure.  From
More than 40 co-sponsors from both political parties signed onto House Bill 168 before it was brought for introduction Thursday. The legislation would take the castle doctrine, which doesn’t require a duty to retreat in self-defense within the home, and expand it. Essentially, it provides immunity from criminal prosecution from liability in self-defense-style shootings in public settings.

“This bill simply expands it so anywhere you are allowed to be, that castle doctrine comes with you,” Rep. Tim Salazar, R-Dubois, said on the House floor. “You do not have to retreat if you are in fear of your very life, the life of yourself or your family members. This bill is needed in the state of Wyoming because we’re the only state in the entire West that does not have it.”
The bill provides for immunity from arrest after a court hearing on self defense. It also grants immunity in civil actions, including civil asset forfeiture. From

The measure provides immunity for anyone who uses “defensive force in order to prevent an injury or loss to himself or another person” so long as he or she was not doing anything illegal or trespassing when attacked. Wyoming currently considers a person to have acted in self defense if he or she “held a reasonable fear” of death or serious injury. The stand your ground bill advanced Thursday changes that definition to a “good faith belief” of danger, specifying that a person is immune from civil liability or prosecution for using force even if it turns out they were not actually facing injury or death.
Civil asset forfeiture abuse has become more common as police departments have used it as a significant source of funding. From  HB168: immune from civil action for the use of the force, including any civil forfeiture action brought by the state of Wyoming.
The "Stand Your Ground" reform of self defense law in Wyoming seems likely of passage.  27 of the 30 senate seats are Republican. The Governor, Matt Mead, seems likely to sign this relatively uncontroversial, and popular bill. The popularity of "Stand Your Ground" bills appears to rest on reining in the power of prosecutors to prosecute people in self defense cases, punishing them by process, even though they are likely to be found not guilty.

The case of George Zimmerman, who was found not guilty in the self-defense shooting of Trayvon Martin, is often mentioned when "Stand Your Ground" laws are discussed. In fact, the Florida "Stand Your Ground" law had nothing to do with the case. It was never used by the Zimmerman defense, as it was not applicable.

HB 168 seems likely to pass. Its purpose, to keep law abiding people who are forced to defend themselves from being bankrupted during later legal processes,  may well be achieved.

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

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