CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When it comes to questions about how the Stand Your Ground law should be applied, Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants says it’s sometimes best to let a jury decide.
“That is my default,” said Plants. “If there is a serious bodily injury or there’s a death and I’m having a hard time deciding whether to move forward or not, I always default and let the people decide, take it to a jury, let them hear the evidence and let them make a decision.”
West Virginia is one of more than 20 states with a Stand Your Ground law which protects citizens from prosecution if their use of force against an attacker is justified because they are defending themselves.
A member of the Florida jury that acquitted George Zimmerman last weekend of charges connected to the death of Trayvon Martin cited Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, on CNN’s “AC 360” Monday night, as one of the factors in the not guilty decision.
Zimmerman’s defense was not focused on Stand Your Ground, but the details of the law were included in the jury instructions.
In West Virginia, Plants said the Stand Your Ground law has two categories: one for those at no fault, who are attacked with no provocation, and a second for those at fault, meaning they are the reason for the altercation.
In the latter case, he said the attacker has the duty to retreat if force is not imminent.
At times, Plants said it’s tough to make a call based on the details of individual cases.
“Sometimes you just have to let a jury decide,” Plants said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” “It’s not perfect, but it’s the best justice system on the planet.”