Self-Defense Laws in New York

July 30, 2013 Updated Jul 31, 2013 at 12:01 AM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

...
July 30, 2013 Updated Jul 31, 2013 at 12:01 AM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - When do you use deadly force in self-defense? That question is coming to play after a Buffalo man shoots two robbery suspects and avoids charges.

Many states in the United States have the controversial Stand Your Ground Law, giving individuals the right to use reasonable, and at times deadly, force in self-defense.

New York does not have that law. However, in certain cases deadly force is considered justified.

The Minnesota Avenue incident took place Sunday night. Police say two men went to the home of an unidentified 50-year-old man washing his car with his two sons. The father shot the would-be robbers.

Legal experts say New York law allows the use of deadly weapons in self-defense if a victim fears for their life, the life of someone else or in the cases of a robbery or rape.

However, the arguments allowed in a courtroom for self-defense are much more limited in New York than other states.

"If the threat is over, if you are able to get out of there safely without using the force, you have an obligation to do so," says legal expert Timothy Hoover.

New York is not one of the states with the Stand Your Ground Law. In those states, like Florida, "you don't have to retreat under almost any circumstances at all." The Stand Your Ground Law states an individual can use reasonable or deadly force in self-defense.

However, that law has come under fire since a jury acquitted George Zimmerman of murdering Trayvon Martin. Critics say the Stand Your Ground Law is too vague.

However, New York is one of more than 20 states that goes by the Castle Doctrine.

"You can protect yourself in your home, against intruders who are braking in or causing damage or maybe threatening you," Hoover explains.

The man in Buffalo who shot the two robbery suspects has not been charged with a crime. However, the two who were shot have been arrested and charged with first degree robbery.