Male Speaker: The following segment is sponsored by Harding Mazzotti.
Interviewer: A 20-year-old woman is dead, and a man has been charged with second-degree murder after a shooting over the weekend in the town of Hebron in Washington County. Police say that four people in a vehicle went up the wrong driveway looking for a friend’s house, and the suspect allegedly fired two shots, one of which struck the vehicle.
What does this mean in the context of New York State’s self-defense laws? Well, here to help us discuss this is managing partner, Paul Harding, from the law firm Harding Mazzotti. Paul, thanks so much for joining us this afternoon.
Interviewer: So, I guess the first thing we wanna touch on is that even though it seems clear that the victim and her friends going up this guy’s driveway by mistake, they weren’t a threat. You hear about these stand-your-ground laws in a lot of states. Does New York have this, or what does New York have?
Paul: It has brought up that whole conversation. So, New York does not have a stand-your-ground rule. What is that? That means that if you are on the public street or actually outside of your house, on your land, and you’re confronted with the serious physical harm, and you have the duty to retreat, right, in the State of New York. In the State of Florida, famously, you do not have to retreat.
You can use lethal force if you believe that you are in serious physical harm. Not to be confused with the castle doctrine. So, in New York State, if you’re in your home and someone enters your home, and you feel you’re in serious harm’s way, you then can use lethal force. And it’s perfectly… So, the states change, the conversation changes, but to your point, you know, do any of these facts exist here?
Interviewer: Yeah, I know. And lethal force, you were saying that is only if somebody is breaking, someone came into your house. It’s not… Because in this case, it was what police said, or sheriff’s deputies said that the guy shot from off his porch.
Paul: Correct. There would be absolutely no reason, no justification even if he did feel that he was in serious physical danger. If they had a gun pointing at him, the facts could change, but none of those facts seemed to exist here.
Interviewer: Yeah. Just in your personal opinion, how do you think this case is gonna turn out?
Paul: Yeah, so I…you know, again, the facts are it’s an unthinkable event. Everyone’s trying to figure out what was going on in his mind. You know, where someone is coming in your driveway, and a shot is fired, is the shot fired accidentally? Was he having other things happening in his life? Were there mental issues happening?
We don’t know any of that. But the fact is, as I see them, that he’s charged appropriately, and he would be convicted unless there’s other facts that come about that would change that analysis.
Interviewer: All right. Well, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. He will be in court today.
Paul: Yes, absolutely.
Interviewer: Paul Harding, thank you so much for joining us.
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