Essay on Oklahoma Stand Your Ground Law

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George Washington University
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In recent years, many states have passed Stand your ground laws that eliminate the need to retreat. These laws promote the use of force in self-defense. Such a law was enacted first in Florida in the year 2005, basically permitting its citizens to stand their ground as opposed to retreating if they strongly consider doing so will avert death or bodily harm. Other states such as Oklahoma, followed suit by enacting laws that uphold an individuals right to self-defense, even when not at home, applying deadly force if need be. The term of each state law may be different, but naturally, require one to have right to be at a particular place. Self-defense laws sometimes overlap, but commonly fall into three groups namely: Castle Doctrine, Duty to Retreat, and Stand Your Ground. A stand-your-ground law is simply a justification in criminal cases, whereby the accused can employ force without walking away, with the purpose of defending and protecting themselves and others when faced with imminent or immediate danger. A different way of describing the law is that absolute safety is a right of any individual who has right to be in a certain place. The purpose of this essay is to evaluate the Oklahomas stand-your-ground law in a case where a woman alleged to have driven three burglars to a home in Oklahoma where the three housebreakers met their demise. The woman is responsible for counts of robbery and murder, but the shooter who happens to be the homeowners son is a free man. The investigation is undergoing to determine whether he acted in self-defense during the suspected home invasion.

Specific details that apply in Oklahoma statute 21-1289.25 clearly outlines clauses pertaining to physical or deadly force against an intruder:

A. The Legislature hereby recognizes that the citizens of the State of Oklahoma have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes or places of business.

B. A person or an owner, manager or employee of a business is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

1. The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or a place of business, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against the will of that person from the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or place of business; and

2. The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

C. The presumption set forth in subsection B of this section does not apply if:

1. The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not a protective order from domestic violence in effect or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person;

2. The person or persons sought to be removed are children or grandchildren, or are otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or

3. The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle, or place of business to further an unlawful activity.

D. A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

E. A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter the dwelling, residence, occupied vehicle of another person, or a place of business is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.

F. A person who uses force, as permitted pursuant to the provisions of subsections B and D of this section, is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force. As used in this subsection, the term criminal prosecution includes charging or prosecuting the defendant.

G. A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force, but the law enforcement agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

H. The court shall award reasonable attorney fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection F of this section.

I. The provisions of this section and the provisions of the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act shall not be construed to require any person using a pistol pursuant to the provisions of this section to be licensed in any manner.

J. As used in this section:

1. Dwelling means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people;

2. Residence means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest; and

3. Vehicle means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property. (Oklahoma HCS HB 2615 - "Stand Your Ground Law" - Key Vote - The Voter's Self Defense System: 21-1289.25.)

For instance, in Oklahoma, these statute is put to the test in a case where the authorities indicated that three suspected armed burglars were shot and murdered by the homeowners son who was in possession of an assault rifle. Felony murder is the charge that the alleged getaway driver faces ("Killing of 3 Teens during Burglary May Test Oklahoma 'Stand Your Ground' Law"). Zach Peters, the homeowners son makes a 911 call at around 12:30 p.m. and tells the dispatcher that people have unlawfully entered his home and that he had discharged his AR-15 rifle. Nick Mahoney, Deputy of the Wagoner County Sheriffs Office, found the bodies of three dead male teenagers aged 16-18 in that home.

The Deputy continues by saying that Rodriguez, the apparent 21-year-old getaway driver, presented herself to the authorities claiming to have information concerning the shooting. Rodriguez identified the three dead bodies and after being interviewed was put in custody. The police arrested her on counts of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and a third account of second-degree burglary. According to the police, the third reason was that the four had been there earlier and chose to return.

Opposing views claim that insufficient information by the jury creates a loophole for criminals to avoid or lessen their jail times. One cannot deny that criminal offenders should not be allowed to get away with murder (TU Law Digital Commons | University of Tulsa College of Law Research). People also believe that the law encourages violence which in turn increase homicide cases. Nevertheless, stand-your-ground law shields morally right individuals from prosecution because their only crime was protecting themselves and others from perceived danger. Similarly, the law offers the option of protecting yourself without fear of prosecution.

In conclusion, the stand-your-ground law is a good self-defense law. The purpose of Oklahomas stand-your-ground law is to uphold the right of citizens to defend themselves, remove the need for retreat, and finally helping threatened individuals to avoid prosecution.

Works Cited

"Killing of 3 Teens during Burglary May Test Oklahoma 'stand Your Ground' Law." ABC News,

"Oklahoma HCS HB 2615 - "Stand Your Ground Law" - Key Vote - The Voter's Self Defense System." Vote Smart,

TU Law Digital Commons | University of Tulsa College of Law Research,

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