20 years for putting a hole in your ceiling?

A Florida woman was sentenced to a mandatory 20 years because a gun was used during an aggravated assault. The woman claimed she was in an argument with her abusive husband and fired a warning shot. She claimed she didn't mean to hurt him, but only scare him. The 20 year was a mandatory sentence under Florida law because a gun was used.

Fortunately for her the Court of Appeals reversed the conviction because the court failed to give a self defense instruction.

There are two things I find interesting about this case. The first is the mandatory minimum sentenced imposed by Florida. Fortunately that idea hasn't reached Texas. The consequence of using a gun (or any deadly weapon) is in the impact on parole eligibility. Anyone who has a deadly weapon finding does not get good time credit. That means they have to stay in prison  longer before they can be considered for parole.

The other interesting thing about this case is that it was an aggravated assaulted. Of course, the defendant's version of events may not be entirely accurate. The warning shot may have been a couple of inches above her husband's head. If all she did was shoot the gun up in the air that would be a questionable aggravated assaulted. In Texas that could be the offense of deadly conduct - which is a misdemeanor.

In Texas you don't have to actually injure someone to commit an assault. You can threaten someone with "imminent bodily injury", and if you use a deadly weapon while doing it it's an aggravated assault. So if she was threatening him and pulled a gun, that would do it.

In the "for what it's worth" department, the prosecutor in this case was also the special prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case.

If you want more information on assault you can check out these posts:

What is the difference between simple assault and aggravated assault

 

Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 30 years.
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