As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, brazen acts committed in front of authority figures are like nails on a chalk board. Perhaps the only things that could be worse for a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney are videos of the offense and confessions. Recently at Jacksonville’s Wolfson High School, 18 year old Chynna Cinnamon Thompson allegedly attacked another student and the Dean of Discipline, Joshua Kristol, when he tried to intervene. According to firstcoastnews.com, both acts took place in front of a school resource officer. Thompson was arrested for misdemeanor battery, as well as, battery on a school employee.
Battery occurs when someone intentionally touches or strikes another person against the person’s will or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. Battery is typically a 1st degree misdemeanor, but under Florida law, when certain classes of people become victims of a battery, the offense is automatically reclassified as a felony. In the case of a school board employee, as we have here, the battery is reclassified a 3rd degree felony. Felony offenses, by definition, are offenses where a person can be imprisoned for more than one year. In these cases, hiring an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to defend you or loved one is important.
Battery on a school board employee is punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison, while a simple misdemeanor battery can have a punishment up to one year in jail. This puts Thompson in jeopardy of spending up to six years behind bars. However, based on the limited information available to the public and the apparent lack of any serious injuries in this case, it is unlikely that Thompson will be sent to prison, but the boldness required to launch an attack in font of a school resource officer will most certainly be of great concern to the State Attorney’s Office and the presiding judge.
Although any claim of self defense in Thompson’s case will be hard to argue based on the account of the incident given by witnesses, self defense is generally available as a defense when a person is charged with any battery, whether simple battery, felony battery, or aggravated battery. Chapter 776, entitled Justifiable Use of Force, contains statutes that are commonly referred to as Stand Your Ground laws. The laws get their name from the fact that a person is not required to retreat, but can stand his or her ground and meet force with force to the degree that is reasonably necessary.
Florida statute 776.012, sub paragraph one reads, “A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.” Sub para graph two deals with the use of deadly force. Florida’s self defense statutes can be used to claim immunity against prosecution or as a defense at trial.
To learn more about how the law can be used to help defend you or a loved one charged with a crime, contact the experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC. Call us today at (904) 685-1200 or on our 24-hour helpline at (904) 302-7629. Initial consultations are always free. Click here to contact our lead Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, Markus A, Sermons, Esquire, by e-mail.