Articles Posted in Gun Crimes

Gun PointExercising your Florida gun rights can turn into “gun wrongs”, if you don’t know what to do and what not to do.  Last week I received a call from South Florida.  On the other end was a panicked young concealed carry permit holder; we’ll call him “Eric”, which isn’t his real name for obvious confidentiality reasons.  Eric had been arrested for pulling his gun to stave off a would-be road rage incident.  As Eric drove, there was apparently something about his driving that ticked off another driver.  The other driver began to drive erratically, darting in and out of traffic to catch up with Eric.  Once the other driver caught up to Eric, the other driver rolled down his own window and began to yell at Eric.  Believing things were about to escalate into a bad situation, Eric pulled his gun to encourage the angry driver to back off.  Eric was subsequently arrested for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, pursuant to Section 784.021, Florida Statutes.

Florida law defines an assault as “an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.”  Aggravated Assault with a Firearm carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in Florida State Prison under chapter 775, specifically Section 775.087.  I imagine that you are starting to see the importance of knowing what not to do as a gun owner.  This is not a very pleasant position to be in.  Making a claim of self defense may not be a viable option here.  Key to a self defense claim is that a person uses the same amount of force that is used against the claimant.  It also has to be a reasonable amount of force under the circumstances.  As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I’ve represented people that have been in Eric’s position.  The majority of them were law abiding citizens and good people that made a poor choice in a stressful situation. Continue reading

Recently, there have been a series of shootings in Jacksonville.  In some instances, there were people that were struck by gunfire.  These violent stories regarding crime circulate quickly because of the shock value associated with them.  Florida’s 10-20-life sentencing scheme also make these stories stand out.  However, in my experience as a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, the average criminal case is not the one that makes the news.  The defendant is not a scary person behind the trigger of a gun, but a normal, average Joe type that has made a bad decision in a single moment.  Other times, it’s someone who hasn’t done a single thing wrong, but is instead the unfortunate victim of circumstance.  Whether the crime is  Racing/Reckless Driving; Assault/Battery;  Possession of Marijuana; or Theft, anyone could find themselves in need of a criminal defense lawyer.

A criminal defense lawyer is important for someone that doesn’t have a history of being in trouble just as much as it is for the repeat offender.  In some instances, a criminal defense attorney is able to point out circumstances that show clearly that a client is innocent and convince the State that no charges should be filed.  Having charges thrown out without ever being filed is the best outcome, but is more likely to happen  when your criminal defense lawyer has been brought in very soon after arrest.  Other times, when the facts are against you, a good criminal defense attorney, with enough experience to properly evaluate your case, can help present mitigation and negotiate the best possible outcome for your situation.

At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have criminal defense lawyers with years of experience that can help you or a loved one in your time of need.  Initial consultations are always free.  Whether you have traffic tickets, or something more serious, call us today at (904) 685-1200 to find out how we can help.

In July of 2014, an Arizona homeowner shot and killed one of two intruders who had entered his home in the middle of the night. The homeowner was eighty (80) year old Thomas Greer, who had been assaulted during the home invasion and suffered a broken collar bone, according to ammoland.com. Later, When Greer spoke with reporters regarding the attack and the shooting of the female burglar, Mr. Greer made comments that weren’t the smartest of things to say. In fact, the forensic evidence showed that what Greer told reporters wasn’t even the true about what happened.

150202_black-and-white-gun-1409524-m.jpg What Greer told reporters is that the female told him she was pregnant and begged him not to shoot. He said that he shot her in the back as she ran out into his front yard in an attempt to escape. However, the the forensic evidence showed that the female intruder had been shot once in the chest and once in the knee. The evidence also showed that the woman had been shot inside Greer’s home, and later ran outside. The prosecution made its decision not to charge Greer with the shooting death based what the forensic evidence showed, but it could have easily turned into a situation where Greer could have been in need of a criminal defense lawyer himself.

Greer’s example comes to us from Arizona, but could have easily taken place anywhere in the State of Florida. Under Florida law, specifically Florida Statute 776.013, a person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force when an intruder enters a residence without permission. The law creates a presumption that the person using deadly force in this situation to defend his or home home was reasonable in his or her fear of imminent death or great bodily harm. The issue with Mr. Greer’s statements is that the statements have the ability to chip away at the legal presumption of fear of imminent death or great bodily harm.
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A West Palm Beach man, 27 year old Dechazo Harris, placed an order at a Checker’s drive-thru, but changed his mind about the order once he got to the window. According to huffingtonpost.com, Harris was told that he would have to drive back around to change his order. Harris pulled a gun on the employee and threatened to shoot the employee if Harris wasn’t given a burger.

141103_grilled-sausage-patties-1422473-m.jpgHarris ended up being arrested on aggravated assault charges, pursuant to Florida statute 784.021. Assault occurs when a person makes a threat, either by word or by doing some act, that causes another person to reasonably become fearful. A weapon being involved is what makes this a case of aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is a third degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of 5 years, but under Florida’s minimum sentencing scheme for gun-related crimes, Harris faces a 3 year mandatory minimum sentence. If convicted, he will not be eligible for early release or gain time.

At the law office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers that can help if you or a loved one are charged with aggravated assault or any other offense. Initial consultations are free. Call us today at (904) 685-1200 or on our 24-hour helpline at (904) 302-7629. You can contact me directly via e-mail by clicking here.

In June, Thomas Trent was found dead in a shopping center parking lot on Jacksonville’s westside. The 54 year homeless man had died from a gunshot wound to the head. Authorities have now accused 13 year old Sharron Townsend of the homicide. Townsend was 12 years old at the time of the shooting, according to Jacksonville.com.

State Attorney Angela Corey has decided that 13 year old Townsend should be charged as an adult in relation to Trent’s second degree murder. Life is the maximum sentence for second degree murder. Section 985.56, Florida Statutes (2014) authorizes state attorneys to charge a child of any age as an adult when a child commits an offense that is punishable by death or life in prison; the child will then be treated as an adult in all respects. In a recent statement, State Attorney Corey expressed her belief that juvenile sanctions were not enough to punish and rehabilitate a child that commits this type of violent crime. Townsend is the second juvenile that Corey has charged as an adult in a murder case. The first was Christian Fernandez, who was accused of killing his 2 year old brother. Fernandez, like Townsend, was 12 years old at the time.

I’ve participated in murder trials and sentencing hearings in Jacksonville as a criminal defense attorney. The devastation to the families on the victim’s side and the defendant’s side is unreal. Dealing with offenses of this magnitude are draining to all involved. Choosing the right attorney to represent you or a loved one in a serious criminal case is an important task that is not to be taken lightly. At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced criminal defense lawyers with years of experience defending serious felony offenses. If you, or a loved one, are arrested for a violent offense, we can help. Initial consultations are free. Call us today at (904) 685-1200 or on our 24-hour helpline at (904) 302-7629. You can contact me directly via e-mail by clicking here.

A criminal defense attorney’s worst enemy is a confession, whether in writing or one that is video taped. As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I’ve had my share of clients confess to crimes, even after they had been warned and told that they have the right to remain silent. At least these confessions came while they were being interrogated by trained detectives. I am completely baffled by the number of people that use social media to “confess” to criminal offenses by posting statements, and the ultimate confession… posting videos of themselves committing the crimes.

A teenager in Oregon was arrested after he made a Facebook post concerning a crash that occurred while the teen was driving under the influence, according to abcnews.go.com. The teenager posted, “Drivin drunk… classsic 😉 but to whoever’s vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P”. After the messages were sent to the local police station, the teen was arrested for hitting two parked cars, but not for DUI.

140908_capture-1046263-m.jpgNydailynews.com reported that Facebook also led to a North Carolina mother’s arrest after a video was posted on her son’s Facebook page. The video showed the teen’s mother helping him attempt the “fire challenge“. The forty-one year old mother was arrested for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor after her son had to be treated for the burns he received while attempting the challenge.
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There are probably people that would say, “Yes!” if asked whether Florida’s current legal climate unconstitutionally limits the rights of citizens to carry guns; while some will disagree with that opinion. Lawyers in Florida, politicians, anti-gun groups, pro-gun groups, and all others in between have different opinions on the issue because the answer isn’t straight forward.

gun-and-bullets-1146529-m.jpgBoth extremes, pro- and anti-gun groups, alike, have validity to the concerns that they have surrounding the issue. As a United States citizen, I want the full protections and benefits of constitutional rights that have been guaranteed to each of us, although, I feel somewhat uneasy at the thought of people walking around openly with guns in their hands or on their hips like cowboys. However, my feelings and the feelings of those that agree or disagree is not what are important. The important thing to consider is what the law requires, specifically the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution.

The 2nd amendment to the United States Constitution declares, “[. . .] the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Florida’s Constitution, in Section 8 of Article I, states, “[t]he right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.” Exercising it’s police powers, the State of Florida in its own constitution puts a qualifier on the right to bear arms granted in the U.S. Constitution by adding that the State may regulate the manner in which it’s citizens bears arms.
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How often does the answer to the question, “Do you own a firearm?” make a difference when you visit your doctor because of a sore throat? I’m willing to bet that “never” is the reply that comes to mind for most people. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals apparently shares this opinion as shown by its ruling upholding a law signed by Florida governor, Rick Scott, which prohibits doctors in Florida from asking patients whether they own guns.

medical-doctor-1314902-m.jpgIn response to the bill signed by Gov. Scott and backed by the National Rifle Association, several individuals and groups from the anti-gun community, such as the Florida chapters of the American Academies of Pediatrics and American College of Physicians, filed a lawsuit against the State of Florida. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, “the Act simply acknowledges that the practice of good medicine does not require interrogation about irrelevant, private matters.”

The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution reads in part, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Institute for Legislative Action Director, Chris Cox, welcomed the court’s ruling and described the ruling as “common sense”. Cox went on to say that whether a patient exercises his or her constitutional right to own a gun is none of a doctor’s business.
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In Jacksonville, and throughout the State of Florida, a bad decision that leads to a felony conviction can strip a person of his or her civil rights for life. Without a restoration of civil rights, a convicted felon cannot possess a firearm, serve on a jury, vote, hold public office, and more. Perhaps the most hurtful rights to have taken from a convicted felon are the rights to vote and bear arms. The Florida Constitution takes the right to vote as a result of a felony conviction, while Florida Statute 790.23 makes it illegal for a felon to possess a firearm and creates a three (3) year mandatory minimum sentence that must apply for those convicted of the offense. Although it is possible to have one’s civil rights restored, the number of convicted felons having their rights restored has dropped in recent years, according to News4Jax.com.

statue-of-liberty-2-1420901-m.jpgAutomatic restorations implemented by former Governor Charlie Crist were done away with soon after current Governor Rick Scott came into office in 2011. Since Scott took office, the number of civil rights restorations has dropped significantly. There have only been approximately 1200 since Governor Scott was elected to office, compared to more than 150,000 during Crist’s administration.

The Office of Executive Clemency is the Florida agency that oversees the restoration of civil rights for Florida convicted felons. There are similar, but slightly different procedures that exist, depending on the level of civil rights restored and the seriousness of the underlying offense; each requires an investigation into the applicant that wishes to have his or her civil rights restored.
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Currently, a controversial question has come about in Florida: Should a convicted felon, who because of his status as a convicted felon has lost the right to legally own or possess a gun, be afforded the chance to claim self-defense and be immune from prosecution if he shoots someone while defending his home? More scenarios exists that create legal justification, but the defense of one’s home is the most recognizable situation that comes to mind for most people. The Florida Supreme Court is currently awaiting legal briefs and oral arguments from attorneys so that the high court can decide if Stand Your Ground applies to convicted felons, each side hoping to sway the court in its favor.

If reasonably justified under the facts relating to a particular situation, the average non-felon Florida citizen will be afforded the benefits and protection of the Stand Your Ground law when forced to use the lethal force of a gun for protection from a home invader, for instance. Depending on the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue, Florida criminal defense attorneys may have a new tool in the defense of some clients.

There is no requirement to quiver in fear or run away, tail tucked between your legs, when someone attempts to use lethal or deadly force against you in Florida under the state’s Justified Use of Deadly Force statutes. This principle is commonly referred to as Stand Your Ground. Under the proper circumstances, Florida law makes a person immune from criminal and civil liability after lawful self-defense is exercised.
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