LEG 320 Assignment 2: Criminal Defenses and Criminal Punishments

Criminal Defenses and Criminal Punishments

LEG 320

Strayer University

Criminal Defenses and Criminal Punishments

When determining whether or not the use of force is lawful or not, there are many things to consider. There have been many controversial issues that pertain to the correct use of force by police officials. Many of this occurrences have made the public eye. The most controversial thing in this issues were that police were allegedly using excessive force to contain suspects of crime. The force of use have been the focus of these publicized events. As you may know, there are no guidelines to follow when determining the amount of force to use, but police officers are trained to use their best professional judgment when utilizing force to apprehend a suspect. The court is left to determine whether or not excessive force was used. There are key points the courts consider when making this determination of lawfulness and they are: the “stand your ground law, self-defense, and/ or the good Samaritan law.

Self-defense is one of the many key points that is used when determining the lawfulness of using excessive force in any case. Self-defense is defined as the actual right to prevent suffering force or violence through the use of sufficient level of counteracting force or violence (Leisring, 2016). Self-defense is self-explanatory in regards to the fact of it containing the right to defend oneself, the lawfulness of the actions of other people involved, and the level-headedness of the act of self-defense. Each of the components of self-defense contain an equal level of reasonable neutrality. This is a fact, to me, because each individual involved is considered. Two people may have potentially conflicting rights to self-defense, but innate right does not give anyone a right to interfere with the person of another except to protect his or her own person (Ripstein, 2009).

George Zimmerman in a FL case argued that he was standing his ground when he shot and killed an innocent teenager in his neighborhood. Following this case, Senator Charles Schumer wrote a personal letter to the Attorney General to include, “I write to request that the Department of Justice investigate whether “stand your ground laws,” such as Florida Statutes Section 776.012, are contributing to excessive and unnecessary use of deadly force.” (International business, Schumer) Nirav Patel was charged with felony battery in a FL case, but was granted immunity under Florida’s stand your ground law. The “Stand your Ground” law is another key point courts consider when determining lawfulness of force.

With respects to the cases mentioned above, a person can go to extreme measures of excessive force when responding to an act of violence. When responding to an attack, an outdated response was “withdrawing”, or in more technical terms “the duty of retreat,” unless a person truly believes that the only way to defend themselves against harm towards self is to use force. This has been the focus of dispute for a very long time. The focus remains largely on the fact that control is given to a person to decide whether or not force in excess should be used or not.

The third and last point to consider when determining the lawfulness of excessive force is the Good Samaritan law. This law is actually a good law that hopefully inspires people to do good when it pertains to others. In the Starbucks incident where a man tried to rob Starbucks and a 50 year old Good Samaritan stopped in. In doing so, he was injured himself and had to get staples in his neck. In this case, the Good Samaritan was questioned on whether or not his good deed should go unpunished. Many experts and specialist in the field of law have voiced a bit of unease over this law. Simply, because the decision of lawfulness is left to be single-minded decided by “the people.” Is it a good questionable topic? Concern is not surprisingly aspect of this law because authority is granted to individuals.

There are fundamental differences between the castle doctrine and “stand your ground” type of criminal defenses. These kind of criminal defenses are easily confused. Nevertheless there are notable differences between the two. U.S. self- defense law is derived, is that one has a “duty to retreat” before using lethal force against an assailant. The exception to this principle is when one is threatened by an intruder in one’s own home, as the home is one’s “castle.” (Cheng, 2013) The laws that does not allow a person to retreat and to abide by the duty to retreat statute and to use force when protecting their property is the castle doctrine. The law usually applies when a person is within their property boundaries, and not outside. (FL has adopted an addendum to this law.) For example, a person is well within boundaries if they are using force against an intruder as long as they are on their property. As soon as the intruder steps foot off of their property, the person is not allowed by law to use force unless the conditions of the situation change drastically.

However, stand your ground laws, permits a person to use force even when an intruder is not on their property. Especially, when there is definite suspicion of imminent danger. In a case where a person is walking out of the grocery store and a person approaches you trying to rob you, according to the law, you are allowed to use force, even deadly force, to protect yourself.

The 5th Amendment protects against double jeopardy. Double Jeopardy is the legal situation of a person put on trial twice for the same offense (Martoche, 2013). It simply protects criminals who have been acquitted of charges from having to stand trial for the same crime again even in the case that new evidence is to be presented. I believe this to be fair in the case that the person has been falsely accused of a crime. If hard evidence that could possibly convict a person of the actual be presented then they should be allowed to stand trial for the same crime again. Yet, there is always an exception to rules. In the case of double jeopardy, a person can be tried for the same crime by a different entities. Fairness as it relates to the judicial system is a whole different type of fairness. It is what is fair by law.

The adversary system contains basic features such as: (a) Neutral and passive decision maker. (b) Party presentation of evidence and arguments. (c) A trial designed to emphasize clash between parties. (d) Parties have equal opportunities to present and argue their cases. (e) Rules of professional conduct designed to prevent abuses.

Lawyers, in the adversary system, are vowed to defend their clients, and to them there are no boundaries as to what they will or will not do. In some cases, some lawyers have been caught in illegal acts protecting their clients. In this system the guilty is sometimes freed depending on who is defending them.

Objectivity should be one of the characteristics of the justice system, but as time passes subjectivity is more relative. The adversary system does not necessarily correlate with the law.

The 6th Amendment outlines the right of a person to a speedy trial. After a person has been charged of a certain crime, the 6th Amendment kicks in. Defendants are often given a chance to bond out of jail and be free to roam the same streets in which they were charged on committing a crime. A lot can change within this time of freedom, and many argue that this should not be allowed because it benefits no one but the accused.


Cheng, C., & Hoekstra, M. (2013). Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crime or

Escalate Violence? Evidence from Expansions to Castle Doctrine. Journal of Human

Resources, (3), 821.

International Business, T. (3). Sen. Schumer Requests Justice Department Probe Of ‘Stand Your

Ground’ Laws. International Business Times. Accessed November 17, 2017.

Leisring, P., & Grigorian, H. (2016). Self-Defense, Retaliation, and Gender: Clarifying

Motivations for Physical Partner Violence. Journal of Family Violence, 31(8), 949-953.

Martoche, S. R., & Stefanski, D. S. (2013). DOUBLE JEOPARDY. Albany Law Review, 76(3),


Ripstein, A. (2009). Force and Freedom. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

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