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Don’t Worry Robb

Robb notes that he was filmed on TV committing a felony, based on a section of Florida law that would seem to prohibit firing in a shooting range. By my reading of the statute, because discharging a firearm at a shooting range is not “wanton or malicious,” this crime can’t be applied to such an act.

7 Responses to “Don’t Worry Robb”

  1. Robb Allen says:

    Oh, and there’s no jury that would convict me either. But there could easily be someone I rub the wrong way in my political activism who’d gladly waste MY time and money trying it.

    And when they didn’t get me there, I’m sure I’ve committed my daily quota of felonies that they could charge me for as well.

  2. Sean Caranna says:

    The devil is in the details here. The law says “wanton OR malicious” if it said “wanton AND malicious” we would be fine.

  3. Sebastian says:

    Yes, but shooting at a range is neither wanton nor malicious. Wanton probably isn’t the best word to use there, but in this context, shooting at a range wouldn’t fall under the definition.

  4. Sean Caranna says:

    It gets to the legal definition of “Wantonly”. At the heart of that, in this context, is “willful misconduct”. It is illegal to shoot indoors and he did so intentionally. That he was not doing so recklessly or with ill intent is an affirmative defense.

    The point of the post is that people will look for loopholes in law to justify doing some very questionable things. But loopholes can also put you in a world of hurt.

    Remember the guy arrested and convicted of supplying another person with a machine gun because his AR-15 malfunctioned on soft-primer ammo?

    http://totalrecoil.wordpress.com/2008/08/08/malfunctioning-ar15-becomes-a-machine-gun/

    That’s another example of a poorly written law and in that case there was a prosecution despite the clear intent that it was only to apply to actual full auto firearms.

  5. Jake says:

    As Robb points out, regardless of whether or not it meets the legal definition of “wanton”, he would still have to defend himself in court, with all the attendant costs in time and money that are involved in doing so.

    Additionally, even without a conviction, just the arrest can be damaging. The charge would appear on his record anytime a prospective employer looked at it, unless he was able to get it expunged (which also costs money and time). Even with an expungement, if it ever made the news it will probably show up in any decent background check.

    With the economy and unemployment the way they are right now, I would bet most employers don’t bother looking past the existence of the charge to see what the verdict was – they’ll just toss it in the circular file and go to the next guy who’s never been charged with anything more than speeding.

  6. Sebastian says:

    A malicious prosecutor can use any number of laws to go after someone in that manner. Note that the statute in question does not make discharging a firearm indoors unlawful. It only makes discharging a firearm indoors that is wanton or malicious unlawful. That’s different than an affirmative defense.

    An affirmative defense staute would read something like “It shall be unlawful to discharge a firearm in any building, except for such discharge which is neither wanton or malicious.” The burden would be on you to show that your discharge was neither wanton, nor malicious. The way the statute is written, the state’s burden is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your discharge was wanton or malicious.

    Of course, a malicious prosecutor could go after you. A malicious prosecutor could also go after you for a DUI because a police officer said you swerved, without any other evidence. But the statute is written in a manner to pretty clearly not cover discharge of a firearm at a range. Obtaining a conviction would be hard. The judge is going to instruct the jury on the definition of malicious and wanton, which in both cases requires some evil intent. If they can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that was your intent, the jury has to find not guilty.

  7. John A says:

    One commenter at
    http://www.allnineyards.com/?p=175
    noted that there should be no concern, as a court ruling had already altered the reading, for court cases, to include intent to cause harm.

    Of course, I was feeling snarky enough to point out that a prosecution had already been tried or there would be no such rulling.

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