George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin case: Stand Your Ground hearing could clear Zimmerman of charges

SANFORD, Fla. -- The George Zimmerman legal team has announced that there will be a Stand Your Ground hearing that could clear Zimmerman of his second degree murder charge in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

"Since the beginning, there has been a rush to judgement (sic) in the case against George Zimmerman," Zimmerman's Attorney Mark O'Mara wrote on his website covering the defendant's trial.

"Now that the State has released the majority of their discovery, the defense asserts that there is clear support for a strong claim of self-defense. Consistent with this claim of self-defense, there will be a "Stand Your Ground" hearing," he continued.

O'Mara describes the hearing on gzlegalcase.com as a "mini-trial" without the jury, and Zimmerman's murder charges will only be dropped if the judge finds that the suspect shot Martin out of fear for his life.

O'Mara says it will takes months to prepare for the hearing.

Zimmerman is charged with murder for fatally shooting the unarmed teen near his father's Sanford home in February .

Zimmerman said that he shot Martin in self-defense after Martin attacked him.

Martin's family said Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, followed the African-American victim because of racial profiling. 

If the judge clears him of the charges, Zimmerman will be protected from civil actions related to the Trayvon Martin case.

A date has not been announced for the hearing.

Read the full statement below:

Since the beginning, there has been a rush to judgement in the case against George Zimmerman. Since the first day of his involvement, Mr. O'Mara has emphasized that people should be patient and wait for the evidence to be released before forming opinions about the case.

Now that the State has released the majority of their discovery, the defense asserts that there is clear support for a strong claim of self-defense. Consistent with this claim of self-defense, there will be a "Stand Your Ground" hearing.

In the case against George Zimmerman, a "Stand Your Ground" hearing will essentially be a mini-trial. Most of the arguments, witnesses, experts, and evidence that the defense would muster in a criminal trial will be presented in the "Stand Your Ground" hearing.

There are significant differences between a "Stand Your Ground" hearing and a trial. In a "Stand Your Ground" hearing, there is no jury; the decision is made by the judge alone. In a criminal trial, the prosecution must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but in a "Stand Your Ground" hearing, the burden is on the defense to prove that the evidence fits the conditions of the "Stand Your Ground" law. If the Court rules in favor of the defendant in a "Stand Your Ground" hearing, not only are criminal charges dismissed, the defendant is also immune from civil actions related to the shooting. The primary focus of a "Stand Your Ground" hearing is whether George Zimmerman reasonably believed that his use of his weapon was necessary to prevent great bodily harm to himself at the hands of Trayvon Martin.

Preparing for the "Stand Your Ground" hearing will require the same time and resources that would be necessary to prepare for a trial. It will take time to collect and submit reciprocal discovery, depose witnesses and experts, and identify evidence to be submitted during the hearing. We anticipate this will still take several months. Mr. O'Mara, again, urges everyone to be patient during this process and to reserve judgment until the evidence is presented in the "Stand Your Ground" hearing.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments