Articles Posted in Self-Defense

150923_harley-dogAccording to nbcnews.com, a Florida man is currently being investigated for possible animal cruelty charges after he was shot in the wrist… by a puppy.  It sounds unbelievable, but apparently it happened, and there are no charges pending against the puppy, and rightfully so.  Jerry Allen Bradford set out to shoot seven shepherd mix puppies, because he was unable to find them homes.  Apparently, turning the puppies over to the shelter was out of the question.  There can be a fee associated with turning animals in to shelters, but Bradford’s actions are not likely to be excused.  While Bradford held one of the puppies, the puppy squirmed and its paw hit the trigger. How is that for instant karma?  Bradford had already used the revolver to shoot three of the puppies, which were found in a shallow grave after authorities arrived. The other four puppies were unharmed.

As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I immediately began to think about possible defenses in this case if the puppy were to be charged with the shooting.  For Mr. Bradford, I’m pretty sure that animal cruelty charges will likely stick, but based on the language found in Florida statute 828.12, there may be arguments to be made in his defense also.  However, the puppy has a better case.

Self defense allows a person to respond to force with an appropriate amount of similar force.  In this case, deadly force is being used against the puppies.  The law will look to the reasonableness of responding to Bradford with deadly force.  The shooting in this case undoubtedly will be justified where the puppy has observed Bradford fatally shoot three of his puppy brothers.  In this instance, the puppy was reasonably in fear for its life.  Self defense law allows a person to come to the defense of others, just as much as it allows for one to protect himself or herself.  The puppy from this story managed to save four lives, one of those lives was his own, making him a hero in the eyes of many.  If you or a loved have been charged with a crime or are under investigation for any offense, including gun related offenses, the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC can help.  We have experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers and Jacksonville gun lawyers on staff ready to put their experience to work for you.  Call us today at (904) 685-1200 for a free initial consultation.

If you are a gun owner with thoughts of protecting yourself and/or your family, getting a concealed carry permit is an important task for you.  As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer and Florida gun rights lawyer, I can tell you that any situation where a gun is involved is one that is likely to be highly scrutinized and taken really seriously.  This applies to situations where crimes are committed with guns, especially if there is a shooting.    So why does this matter to people that lawfully own guns and use them for good?  Well, even shooting your gun in self defense can lead to you being in hot water under some circumstances.  Having a concealed carry permit will usually remove some of the questions from the minds of law enforcement when they conduct their investigation.

Gun PointChapter 776 of Florida’s statutes is called Justifiable Use of Force.  This collection of statutes gives guidance to when the use of force, including deadly force is okay.  Shooting your gun in self defense will always be deadly force.  Deadly force is described as force that is likely to cause great bodily injury or death.  After all, the purpose of firing is to eliminate any threat that is present.  If some properly, a firearm can help you to eliminate the threat against you and/or your family.  Gun owners must be careful in this regard.  You are only authorized by law to return the amount of force that is used against you.  Shooting a guy during a fist fight at the park will surely land a person in prison.  However, the law presumes that deadly force is appropriate in certain situations, for example when a stranger enters your home in the middle of the night without your permission.  Chapter 776 of Florida statutes allows you to presume that the would-be burglar is there to cause you great bodily harm.

Calling a gun rights lawyer should be the next call made after shooting your gun.  You should speak with an attorney prior to providing a statement to police.  In my experience, this annoys law enforcement a little, but I believe it’s worth protecting your future.  At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have the necessary experience and knowledge to help in these situations.  Call us today at (904) 685-1200 to find out more about your rights and about what should be done in the event of a discharge.

fightingDepending on where and how you grew up, you may have been told as a child or heard someone else told, “If he hits you, hit him back!”  My neighborhood back home in southern Georgia  happened to be a place where such an attitude was common.  This type of advice is where many people are first introduced to the concept of self defense.  Florida law, under Chapter 776, contains a group of statutes that define the justifiable use of force, commonly known as self defense.  The law doesn’t mention anything about being able to “hit back” if someone hits you.  It’s a bit more refined than that.   Bouncers at a Florida bar could learn this lesson the hard way.

A brawl at a Saint Augustine Bar recently has people questioning whether bouncers went too far in breaking up a fight.  After two women began to fight, things were elevated by security at the Conch House in Saint Augustine, Florida. Much of the chaos was caught on video.  News4jax.com reported that the bouncers may have even thrown an unconscious person into the water.  Florida law allows you to defend yourself, even defend others, but there must be a reasonable amount of force used.

Florida Statute 776.012 states:  “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.”  What this means is that you are allowed to use force to stop an ongoing attack against you.  Florida law allows a certain amount of force to be used in protecting your property, as well.

Gun3Gun rights are near and dear to the hearts of many Americans. The second amendment to the United States Constitution protects our right to arm ourselves to the delight of many gun enthusiasts. The States routinely regulate the way people can exercise their gun rights, even though the U.S. Constitution protects against those rights being infringed. In the debate over guns laws throughout the years, anti-gun factions have been in support of more regulation concerning the way guns can be owned and possessed. I imagine that this is where legislation comes from that makes it a crime to carry concealed weapons, and makes it a more serious crime to carry a concealed gun than to carry some other concealed weapon.

Florida law, specifically Section 790.01 Florida Statutes, makes it a third degree felony to carry a concealed gun or firearm, while carrying other concealed weapons without a permit is only a misdemeanor. This shows the strong stance the State of Florida takes against gun crimes. Carrying a concealed firearm is punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison.  As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I have represented clients charged with Possession of a Concealed Firearm on many occasions. Most often, my client had come into contact with law enforcement after a traffic stop, which under some circumstance or another ends up with the car being searched.

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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

baseball-bat-toy-990124-mWhen Jimmy Morris discovered that his daughter’s boyfriend had beaten her bloody in front of her children, Mr, Morris took matters into his own hands before police arrived.  Witnesses who were present at the scene reported that Morris took a baseball bat from his truck and hit his daughter’s abusive boyfriend with enough force to crack the bat.  Top Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers immediately begin to think of ways to defend against potential aggravated battery charges after hearing the facts in this case.  Morris’ best hope of a legal defense lies in the principle of self defense, which includes defense of others, being applied to Morris’ case.  So what is the likelihood that Morris could be saved by the principles of self defense?

Under Florida law, a battery is simply a harmful or offensive touching of another; this offense is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one (1) year in jail.  Section 784.045 elevates a simple battery offense up to aggravated battery  when great harm is done to the victim, when the victim is permanently disfigured or disabled, or when the defendant uses a deadly weapon; aggravated battery is a second degree that can land a defendant in prison for up to fifteen (15) years.  Whether an object is a deadly weapon depends on the way that it is used.  Taking a bat to an individual’s head is absolutely enough to qualify the bat as a deadly weapon.

Applying a self defense theory to Morris’ defense may prove difficult in this situation.  Self defense does not mean what I’ve found that the average person thinks it means.  You hit me– I hit you back.  Or in Morris’ case… You hit my daughter– I crack your skull.  Self defense (or defense of others) applies when a certain amount of reasonable force is used to stop unlawful force from being used against you (or the person you’re defending).  Simplified, it boils down to what needs to be done to get the attacker off you or someone else while the attack is happening.  Hitting his daughter’s boyfriend after the boyfriend beat her, rather than while he was attacking her, creates a problem.   Continue reading

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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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.
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NFL star running back, Ray Rice, has been all over headlines lately after a video surfaced that shows Rice punching his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in the face… knocking her out cold. TMZ.com first posted the full video on September 8, 2014. The video shows Rice hit Palmer inside an elevator, then drags her out after he knocks her unconscious.

Rice was indicted for aggravated assault as a result of the domestic violence incident that took place. The incident occurred in Atlantic City; Palmer was also charged with assault by Atlantic County, but the charges against her were later dismissed. Other States label offenses differently in some circumstances. In Florida, Rice’s conducted would be labeled as battery, rather than assault. A battery occurs when a person is touched or struck against the person’s will. An assault occurs when a victim is put in fear of being touched or struck. The fear has to be reasonable and the person threatening some sort of harm must have an apparent ability to follow through with the threat.

A battery or assault offense can carry a range of degrees in Florida, and accordingly there is a range of possible penalties that apply. Additionally, domestic battery convictions result in the loss of firearm rights, even in cases where the offense is not a felony offense. Criminal defense lawyers most often look to self defense as a shield against battery or assault charges. In cases like Ray Rice’s case where the attack is on video and clearly shows that self defense is not an available defense, an experienced criminal defense attorney that can negotiate on behalf of the defendant is invaluable.
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If you were to ask a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer when was a good time for his or her client to resist an officer, the most likely answer you would get is, “never”. Most of the time, resisting an officer invites unwanted trouble. Over the years I’ve seen many clients who could have avoided arrest all together by simply relaxing. Whatever the reason was that the officer had to “harass” the client went away, but the Resisting Without Violence offense that came as a result of the client walking away when the officer had a legally valid reason for the stop would still stick around; often leading to a night in jail and unnecessary court costs and other fees.

In a July 23, 2014 article entitled Know Your Rights Under Florida Law, I discussed some of the basics regarding what you should do (and not do) when you encounter police. That article also contains a link to an ACLU rights card that is available as a free download and is very informative about your rights. It is never a good idea to physically resist an officer, with incredibly limited exception. Usually, the consequences of not putting your hands behind your back as directed means an additional offenses being charged, additional fines, and the like. Well, in the case of 43 year old Eric Garner, the ultimate price was paid after Mr. Garner refused to be taken in to custody in New York.

Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by police while officers tried to subdue Mr. Garner, who pulled away when they attempted to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes, according to FindLaw.com. An eyewitness recorded the entire incident. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LSBpwmMnVM Continue reading

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