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Duty to retreat

In FL, one kid bullied another. There were several witnesses to that. The kid getting bullied tried to flee after he was punched in the back of the head. The bully kept on. His intended victim then stabbed him to death. The judge ruled he acted in self-defense and the press is saying it is due to the ‘stand your ground’ law:

Brodie’s ruling concluded that Saavadra, who said he was bullied and tried avoid a fight with Nuno, did not act unlawfully. She added that Saavadra had more than enough reason to believe he was in danger of death or great bodily harm.

I’m not familiar with FL law but I think that if someone is beating on you, you could defend yourself regardless off castle doctrine laws. And this wasn’t in a home.

22 Responses to “Duty to retreat”


    This is proper.

  2. Shootin' Buddy Says:

    The modern minority position as to deadly force was that before deadly force could be employed one had to “retreat to the wall”. The exception to this rule was the Castle Doctrine–one need not retreat before using deadly force inside the dwelling.

    Given the alleged fact pattern I believe that under both versions of Florida law, the Defendant would have a viable defense.


    Shootin’ Buddy , Florida law doesn’t require either. If someone attacks you, and you are afraid for your life you can legally kill them. There is no duty to retreat.

  4. aeronathan Says:

    Good shoot…errr…stab as the case may be. Seems like the kid did a lot more than he was legally or even morally obligated to do by trying to get away…

  5. Paul Says:

    Back before the ‘stand your ground laws’ IF you could not safly retreat you cound defend yourself. Most states had such retreat laws. Some were more rigid and required that retreat even in your home.

    But reguardless, the kid could defend himself if he could not retreat, SYGLs or not.

  6. JMaverick Says:

    The Castle Doctrine law here in Florida removed the duty to retreat in your home as well as in any place you can legally be. Not that it matters in this case as the kid made an effort to retreat.

  7. Cargosquid Says:

    The comments are amazing. A HUGE number of people are sick of bullies. Their anger is having them say things like, “A bully got his. Good!”, forgetting that the said bully was a child.

    Another group is blaming the victim for defending himself even after he tried to avoid the fight.

    What a tragedy. The judge did the right thing, though.

    Where were the parents, school, and bus driver?

  8. Matthew Carberry Says:

    Kudos to the judge for noting in detail the effort the kid went to to avoid the fight. Including not noting the display of the knife to others as some sort of “premeditation”.

  9. Laughingdog Says:

    Definitely hard to see why people keep bringing up “stand your ground” in the comments to that article, because the kid didn’t stand his ground. He tried to flee the situation and couldn’t.

  10. Sigivald Says:

    Yeah, I don’t see the relevance to the Castle Doctrine law apart from it being yet another reason for no charges.

    Even if he had a duty to retreat, by all accounts he attempted to, and was still being attacked, and was outnumbered.

    When you’re unable to retreat because you can’t escape the gang attacking you, a duty to do so can no longer exist.

    (Contra cargosquid, I don’t have a lot of sympathy because he was “a child”.

    The dead bully was 16, not 10.

    He could get a driver’s license and a job – and indeed before fairly recently a 16 year old was for all practical purposes an adult.

    Since there’s no evidence he was mentally incompetent, I say he did get what was coming to him, since he would have damned well known that he was assaulting someone, and that doing so was unacceptable behavior by the standards of everyone but his buddies.

    Thought experiment: If the situation was identical, except for both people being older; the dead bully being 18, and his victim 16 at the time, would it actually be any different?)

  11. Pyrotek85 Says:

    Not to pile on Cargosquid, but I disagree too. The bully was old enough to know better, this wasn’t two children quarreling on the playground. I do think it’s regrettable that he had to die, but it was his own choice ultimately.

  12. divemedic Says:

    The law says that you may respond if you are in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm. Under Florida law, a broken arm is considered to be serious bodily harm. Call him a bully or whatever, what he was, was an assailant. This is not the first time he attacked others, making him a predator.

    “Take your beating like a man” is the standard talking point of predators who pick on and assault those who are smaller and weaker than they. So the child is supposed to stand there and let a larger, stronger person beat on his head? Are head injuries not likely to cause injury? Ever heard of concussion syndrome?

    As far as the knife being a concealed weapon, under Florida law, a knife with a blade less than 4 inches long is not a weapon, any more than a screwdriver or a hammer is.

  13. Cargosquid Says:

    Please don’t get me wrong. He was a bully. He did wrong. He attacked an innocent and was justifiably stopped. I’m not sympathetic to the attacker. I just don’t find joy at a his death.

    I was pointing out the apparent joy at his demise. And yes, at his age…he was a child. That statement is not to excuse him, but to point out that the entire thing is a tragedy. Be glad that he was STOPPED. But to be glad that he was killed? The victim, too, will have to deal with that for the rest of his life.

    It may be arbitrary, but 16 is still a child. Would you feel as glad if the attacker was 15, 14, 13? 12? They all know better at that age too. It is different when the “goblin” is an adult. Even for one day. And yes, I know that its arbitrary. A 17 year old, one day before his birthday is the same as an 18 year old. Age and maturity is a slippery slope.

    He was assaulting someone else, someone smaller. He was a coward. But, I’m having trouble seeing him a goblin. Maybe a proto-goblin……

    I’ve been the victim of bullies as a child. Many times, I’ve wished for a weapon. And I was lucky that the bullies did not give me a “beat down.” But, I’m also glad that I didn’t kill anyone when I was able to defend myself. I find myself feeling sorrier for the victim having to take a life because of the bully’s actions than I am glad for the bully’s death.

  14. Shootin' Buddy Says:

    “Shootin’ Buddy , Florida law doesn’t require either. If someone attacks you, and you are afraid for your life you can legally kill them. There is no duty to retreat.”

    Yes, I understand that Florida joined the majority position and eliminated the duty to retreat recently. I was explaining that EVEN under the old rule which included the duty to retreat that this would be a viable self-defense case.

  15. SPQR Says:

    Cargosquid, while semantically he was a “child”, he probably could have been charged as an adult for his crime should he have survived.

  16. Cargosquid Says:


    Yes. I understand that. But the very fact that he would probably not be AUTOMATICALLY charged as an adult (I don’t know the actual law.)underscores the fact that he is still a child. But, then, I don’t have a problem with that. Again…I was commenting on the apparent JOY, the schadenfreude of those seeing a bully actually killed.

  17. Bryan S. Says:

    This is what you get when you criminalize the simple schoolyard fistfight. Tensions build, and people get killed.

    Sucks that the 16yo was killed, but sometimes thats what happens. Whats going to be on the other kids mind now for the rest of his life?

  18. divemedic Says:

    @ Bryan- so by trivializing the beating of a smaller child by a larger one, what are we teaching both children? One learns to cow before a larger opponent, and the other learns how to victimize less powerful individuals.
    The reason that we treat children differently under the law is because the do not understand that what they are doing is wrong. I don’t think that this was the case, here.
    As a person who was beaten without mercy at least once a week for four years by a teen six years older than I was, I can tell you that this is not merely a school yard fight. The only thing that stopped the attacker in my case was that he made the mistake of picking a fight on me two years later, when I was 17 years old, and he was 21. I beat him so badly, he was in the hospital for three days. Why should I have been tormented by this kid from the age of 11-15?

  19. Cargosquid Says:

    This bully wasn’t killed and the “fistfight” wasn’t criminalized. The bully stalked the other kid and assaulted him. People were killed because of raised tensions. The bully was killed because 1)he attacked someone. 2)He thought he was going to be able to bully a kid as usual. 3)The victim refused to be one.

    A classic case of target mis-identification. Thank God for the LACK of criminalization and the victim is not being wrongly charged.

  20. Cargosquid Says:

    This bully wasn’t killed because of rising tensions and the “fistfight” wasn’t criminalized.

    The first line should read this way.

  21. chris Says:

    I have no use for bullies.

    This story has a rightful ending (bully looking for trouble by assaulting an innocent victim and getting what he asked for).

  22. John Farrier Says:

    A bully repeatedly pursued a victim, who did his best to retreat and de-escalate the conflict. The bully persisted and his victim killed him.

    Justice was served.

    Why was this kid even charged with a crime?