Uneven application, shocking outcomes

A Tampa Bay Times investigation has found that Florida's "stand your ground" law is being used in ways never imagined — to free gang members involved in shootouts, drug dealers beefing with clients and people who shot their victims in the back.

Who goes free sometimes depend more on where a case is heard than its merits.  Read the story

Shooter is free but not proud

The fight started over a barbecue grill. It ended on Christmas Eve with a man dead. Read the story

When the law cuts both ways

In Clearwater, a self-defense case could be made for each man trading punches and then gunshots.  Read the story

When death is distorted

Lawmakers spun the truth when they used a 2004 tragedy to justify expanding Florida's self-defense law.

Race's complex role

A Tampa Bay Times analysis shows that people who claimed self-defense after killing a black victim were more likely to go free than those who killed a white victim.

Law may see changes

Florida will use the Tampa Bay Times' analysis for a review of the "stand your ground" law.

Drug dealer kills twice, no charges

Twice he claimed self defense, twice he was set free.

Rough crowd benefits from law

Stand your ground most often invoked by killers with a criminal past

Some failing to use law

The outcome of your self-defense case can hinge on what your attorney knows about "stand your ground."

Drug dealers, spurned lovers, a self-described vampire. They've all claimed self-defense under Florida's controversial law. Click below to explore the most complete list of "stand your ground" cases ever created.

Sherdavia Jenkins

Jenkins

Dylan Nuno

Nuno

Trayvon Martin

Martin

Sarah Ludemann

Ludemann

Patrick Hutchison

Hutchison

John Lott

Lott

Tremayne Deangelo Lovett

Lovett

Benjy Young

Young

Wathson Adelson

Adelson

Lucious Nicardo Carroll

Carroll

Reynaldo Muñoz

Muñoz

Juan Miguel Sanchez-Perdomo

Sanchez-Perdomo

Explore a sortable database of fatal cases

Explore a sortable database of nonfatal cases

Search all cases

Know of more? Submit a missing case

Florida's "stand your ground" law has been extremely successful for people who kill and claim self-defense. Nearly 70 percent of those accused went free (36 cases are pending).

graphic

Weighing the circumstances

Trayvon Martin’s death became controversial because circumstances leading up to the shooting cast doubt on who was to blame. The Tampa Bay Times reviewed other “stand your ground” cases for similar circumstances. The Times relied on available information, some of which may not tell the whole story. When the situation was unclear, that was noted.

Yes No Unclear/
disputed

Did the victim initiate the confrontation?

104

cases

48

cases

85

cases

Was the victim armed?

75

cases

160

cases

21

cases

Was the victim committing a crime that led to the confrontation?

51

cases

190

cases

21

cases

Did the defendant pursue the victim?

70

cases

119

cases

48

cases

Could the defendant have retreated to avoid the conflict?

135

cases

36

cases

66

cases

Was the defendant on his or her property?

69

cases

168

cases

0

cases

Did someone witness the attack?

154

cases

58

cases

25

cases

Was there physical evidence?

127

cases

13

cases

97

cases

 
 

Source of data

The Tampa Bay Times used published newspaper reports, court records and documents obtained from prosecutors and defense attorneys to compile a partial list of self-defense cases in Florida since 2005. Although this list likely contains most fatalities in which "stand your ground" was invoked, it does not include scores of less serious cases from around the state.

Cases included

Not all self-defense cases were considered. The Times included 118 cases in which a “stand your ground” immunity hearing before a judge was requested. In the majority of the remaining cases, a law enforcement official, prosecutor or defense attorney invoked the law.

The Times also included 29 cases where circumstances appeared to reflect the Legislature’s intent when it passed the law. For example, if a defendant claiming self-defense could have retreated from a confrontation but chose not to, the case was classified as “stand your ground.”

Home invasion robberies and other cases that clearly would have been self-defense under previous law were not included unless a “stand your ground” immunity motion was filed. If a case occurred on the defendant’s property but outside the home, it was included if the defendant could have retreated inside the home.

Race and ethnicity

The race and ethnicity of victims and defendants were compiled from various sources, including police reports and drivers’ license records. Police and sheriff’s offices often consider Hispanics as an ethnic group and record their race as white or black. As a result, some Hispanics may not be counted in their race category in the Times’ calculations.

Evolving information

Some cases may have changed significantly since the original media reports as a result of further investigation or court events. As a result, some summaries may be incomplete or contain outdated information. 

Some cases are still pending and no determination of guilt has been made. If you have information about any factual errors in a summary, or about further developments in a case, please fill out our case submission form.

Times investigations editor Chris Davis did an interview explaining the investigation on WFLA. Listen here.

Page last updated: Aug. 13, 2013