CNN’s Piers Morgan in an exchange tonight with Ted Nugent over the controversial Trayvon Martin shooting, displayed enormous ignorance of the UK laws governing self-defense. The Conservative columnist took issue with Morgan’s suggestion that in the UK the shooter, George Zimmerman, would be charged for the slaying of Trayvon Martin, if it had taken place there.
According to Nugent, you are not allowed to defend yourself in the UK when attacked and are requited to retreat. Incorrect. And Morgan should have pointed out that you are allowed to use in the UK “reasonable force” to defend yourself.
The UK position is this — and I quote from the Crown Prosecution Service’s own website: “Anyone can use reasonable force to protect themselves or others, or to carry out an arrest or to prevent crime. You are not expected to make fine judgments over the level of force you use in the heat of the moment. So long as you only do what you honestly and instinctively believe is necessary in the heat of the moment, that would be the strongest evidence of you acting lawfully and in self-defense. This is still the case if you use something to hand as a weapon. As a general rule, the more extreme the circumstances and the fear felt, the more force you can lawfully use in self-defense.”
Under the terms of the 2008 UK Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, homeowners, for example, who use “reasonable force” to protect themselves against intruders should not be prosecuted, providing they use no more force than is absolutely necessary.
The applicable Florida law is not that dissimilar when it comes to justifiable use of force. Under the state’s law you are allowed to use deadly or no deadly force if you are: Trying to protect yourself or another person from death or serious bodily harm; or are trying to prevent a forcible felony, such as assault, rape, robbery, burglary or kidnapping.
So the question in Florida will come down to whether neighborhood watch volunteer Zimmerman used excessive force when he shot the Miami teen on February 26 at a gated community in Sanford. Was it justified? Exactly the same question that would be asked in the UK. Why doesn’t Morgan know this?