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florida 20 year sentence argument abusive husband self-defense law mandatory-minimum

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#1 Hum

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 12:54

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - A woman sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a "warning shot" during an argument with her abusive husband won a new trial on Thursday in a case under Florida's controversial self-defense law.

A state appeals court ruled that Marissa Alexander, 32, deserved a new trial because the judge failed to properly instruct the jury regarding her claim of self-defense.

No one was injured in the shooting but because Alexander fired a gun in the incident, Florida's mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines required the judge to sentence her to 20 years in prison.

The case of Alexander, who is black, drew criticism from civil rights groups concerned about self-defense laws and mandatory minimum sentencing rules.

Alexander's fate received little attention until her May 2012 conviction in the wake of the case of volunteer watchman George Zimmerman who said he shot a teenager in self defense.

Under the so-called "Stand Your Ground" law, people fearing for their lives can use deadly force without having to retreat from a confrontation, even when it is possible.

 The 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee said in Thursday's ruling that the trial judge made a "fundamental error" when he instructed the jury that Alexander was required to prove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The defendant's burden is only to raise a reasonable doubt concerning self defense," Appeals Court judge Robert Benton wrote for the court.

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#2 sathenzar

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:01

Firing a warning shot into the air gets you 20 years in prison o_O. I mean, I could see jail but 20 years? When no one was hurt? Seems pretty steep. I'd except that if you were actually trying to hurt/kill someone that the minimum time would be 20 years.



#3 compl3x

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:03

So I guess the whole stand your ground thing isn't applied equally?

 

If you stand your ground and actually shoot & kill someone, you get let off. If you stand your ground but only fire a warning shot, 20 years.



#4 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:10

If you stand your ground and actually shoot & kill someone, you get let off. If you stand your ground but only fire a warning shot, 20 years.

Pretty much. It's a terrible law when it's enforced fairly; it's beyond contempt when it's enforced like this.

 

This case highlights how dangerous minimum sentences are, as they strip courts of the ability to make common sense rulings based on the merits of the case.



#5 fusi0n

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:16

If her life was in danger, then she did the right thing. If someone was about to attack me for no reason that could easily overpower me and I didn't know what they might be capable of, I don't know if I would had fired a warning shot. 



#6 OP Hum

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:45

If she was being threatened by an abusive hubby, she should be found innocent.

 

20 years, when no one was hurt, is ridiculous.



#7 vcfan

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:48

what if she was trying to shoot her husband but missed, then called it a warning shot?



#8 OP Hum

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:52

^ Why didn't she shoot a second and third time ?

 

You would need to listen to the husband and wife in a trial to determine if it was self defense.



#9 Javik

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:54

The sad irony is, these are the kinds people SYG was actually intended to actually help. As much as I favour gun control this was a legitimate case of self defence, and nobody even got hurt. She should not be in prison.



#10 +mulligan2k

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 13:56

if you had a gun in your hands and enough time to fire a warning shot then how is your life in danger?



#11 OP Hum

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 14:02

^ Hubby could have had a knife, could have beaten her up in the past -- maybe she just had enuff.



#12 Growled

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 18:15

 

A woman sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a "warning shot"

 

She would have better off just to have killed him. She would only get 5 years for that, with time off for good behavior. :D



#13 OP Hum

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 00:18

^ If she had had a deep hole prepared, she wouldn't have went to trial. :laugh:



#14 DocM

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 13:36

if you had a gun in your hands and enough time to fire a warning shot then how is your life in danger?

Because if a knife/club/etc. wielding perp is within a few meters they have the tactical advantage, this because of the reaction time delay in aiming & firing the gun at an attacker. This is why cops fire when a knife etc. attacker is still 20-25 feet away.

Also, in most all states warning shots are illegal, or strongly discouraged, because of the danger they present at great distance from the incident. The cops & instructors teach to shoot to kill or don't shoot.

There's a standard tactical drill to establish the distance at which a handgun carrier should fire before they lose the tactical advantage, the Teuller Drill, and it's used by cops and civilian carriers alike.

http://www.theppsc.o...r/How.Close.htm

#15 necroxd

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Posted 28 September 2013 - 17:10

If I remember correctly, she was in an argument, left because she "felt threatened" grabbed her gun from the car, came back inside and fired off the shots. That's why it was unlawful discharge.