Maybe It's Time to Rethink Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law
Florida's "stand your ground" law offers the broadest protection of any state. The laws official name is “Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.” The law allows anyone to use deadly force to protect themselves or others if they fear that death or bodily harm is imminent. The law allows for homeowners to use deadly force if someone is forcibly entering their home. Under the law, the person using deadly force has no requirement to retreat from the perceived threat. You are allowed to meet force with force no matter where you are.
This law applies at home, in your car and in public. If you believe that someone is going to kill you or cause great bodily harm then you may use deadly force on a public sidewalk. The law has had some unintended consequences, though. According to the Tampa Bay Times, "stand your ground" is frequently evoked by people with long criminal histories. According to the story, “more than a third of the defendants had previously been in trouble for threatening someone with a gun or illegally carrying a weapon.” This is based on research the paper did into the 119 times that “stand your ground” has been evoked by defendants since being signed into law in 2005. One such example of the unintended consequences of this law is Jackson Fleurimon, who was granted immunity in 2009 for a fatal shooting that resulted from a dispute over drug turf.
Stories like this one and the national news coverage of the George Zimmerman case have brought Florida’s stand your ground law to the forefront of debate. It may be time to reevaluate how the law is applied to cases where two people encounter each other in public. Perhaps this law has been effected by unintended consequences. It is unlikely that the drafters of this legislation intended to protect drug dealers while they wage war over turf. The law may need to be amended, so there is a duty to retreat before invoking deadly force.
Reference Articles: http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/many-killers-who-go-free-with-florida-stand-your-ground-law-have-history/1241378