Do Stand Your Ground Laws Increase the Number of Homicides?

As of 2012, 25 states have adopted “Stand Your Ground” laws which remove the pre-existing legal requirement to retreat from threats in public spaces, and authorize individuals to use deadly force if they feel harm may come from the situation.

These laws received heightened attention in Florida following the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012. Stand Your Ground laws allegedly exist to protect citizens, but do they actually end up causing more murders and manslaughters?

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The Intent

Why Do States Implement Stand Your Ground Laws?

  • Stand Your Ground laws are meant to give defendants another self-defense option.
  • In cases where a homicide occurs, invoking Stand Your Ground legislation does not negate the homicide; it classifies it instead as one committed in self-defense.
  • Homicides committed in self-defense are called, “justifiable homicides.” Defendants who can prove that this classification applies to their case may receive lessened penalties or, in many cases, no punishment at all.
  • Some states do not prosecute cases that satisfy Stand Your Ground criteria.
  • Stand Your Ground laws are intended to provide the victim of a violent confrontation another option for resolving the threat: force, lethal if necessary.

The Truth

Who Benefits from Stand Your Ground Laws?

  • About 70% of those who invoke Stand Your Ground legislation in Florida are set free.
  • Almost 60% of those who were freed because of Stand Your Ground laws in Florida had been arrested at least once before the self-defense incident took place. 40% were arrested three times or more.
  • In Florida, about one in three of those freed because of Stand Your Ground laws have been previously accused of violent crimes.

Who is Hurt?

  • The national rate for justified homicides has risen from 196 in 2005 to 278 in 2010.
  • Between 4.4 and 7.4 additional white men are killed each month as the result of Stand Your Ground laws.
  • Stand Your Ground laws increase firearm-related homicides among Caucasians by 12.2%.
  • The only group of people who experience significant increases in homicide due to Stand Your Ground Legislation are white males.
  • 73% of those who killed an African American and invoked Stand Your Ground laws in Florida faced no punishment.
  • While both violent and property crimes did decrease in states with Stand Your Ground legislation between 2005 and 2009, they also decreased in states without these laws.
  • Deaths attributed to self defense are up by 283% in Florida since Stand Your Ground legislation was enacted.
  • Nationally, committing homicide in the name of self defense is on the rise.
  • Apart from increasing homicide rates across the board, Stand Your Ground laws don’t always protect the people for whom the laws are intended.

Provided by Total Criminal Defense.

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