- If Zimmerman is charged, he is entitled to a pre-trial evidentiary hearing on whether he is entitled to the immunity based on the law.
- The burden at that hearing is on the defense to prove by “a preponderance of the evidence” (more likely than not) that Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force.
- In Florida, an individual can use deadly force anywhere (with no duty to retreat) as long as he/she:
- is not engaged in an unlawful activity;
- is being attacked in a place he/she has a right to be; And
- reasonably believes that his/her life and safety is in danger.
Zimmerman clearly satisfies criteria 1 and 2. So it comes down to 3 – whether he can show, by a “preponderance of the evidence,” i.e. greater than 50 percent likelihood, that Trayvon Martin was smashing his head against the sidewalk.
- The judge decides whether Zimmerman’s actions were justified, and therefore entitles him to the “stand your ground” immunity.
- If the judge finds the force was justifiable, then the charges are dismissed and Zimmerman is immune from further criminal prosecution and possibly, civil liability.
- If the judge finds the force was not justifiable, then the charges against Zimmerman move forward.
- If the judge rules Zimmerman is immune, the prosecution can appeal that decision to a higher court.