Most Shared

WEAR - Search Results

The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Warning Shot bill backed by Florida Public Defender Assoc.

If you shoot someone while defending yourself or your home in Florida you're protected by the Stand your Ground law.
     
But just pulling a gun or firing a warning shot could land you prison.
Proposed legislation - known as the Warning Shot bill - aims to change that and the Florida Public Defender Association has come out in favor of the plan.

The bill was prompted by the Marissa Alexander case in Jacksonville.
Alexander fired a gun into a wall during a fight with her husband.
    
She says she had a restraining order against him, that he attacked her, and she was in fear for her life.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison under the 10-20-life sentencing law.

Alexander is now out of prison awaiting retrial.
If the "Warning Shot" bill had been law, supporters say Marissa Alexander and others like her might never have been prosecuted.                   
Defense attorneys here in Pensacola and throughout the state say they routinely represent clients who shouldn't be prosecuted because they say they acted in lawful self-defense.

Valerie Prevatte, Criminal Defense Attorney: "The situation can be turned around to where the victim looks like the criminal."
   
Criminal Defense Attorney Valerie Prevatte has been practicing law in Pensacola for more than 15 years.
   
She says she's represented many normal, everyday people who've gotten into big trouble for brandishing a firearm in life-threatening situations.

Valerie Prevatte, Criminal Defense Attorney: "I had one medical professional displayed a firearm during a road rage type incident and ultimately that diffused the situation but surprisingly then that person was later arrested.
   
Prevatte says she successfully defended each of her clients who faced this situation.
But they all faced serious prison time under Florida's 10-20 life law, which requires mandatory minimum sentences for gun-related crimes.

Bill Eddins, State Attorney: "Our office does a very good job of evaluating these cases and screening them out."
   
State Attorney Bill Eddins and other prosecutors say the "warning shot" bill is unnecessary.

Bill Eddins, State Attorney: "If you're in a position where someone's threatening to kill you or cause you serious bodily harm and you threaten them or threaten to use deadly force, we aren't gonna prosecute you."
   
Voters we spoke with had mixed feelings about the legislation.
Charlie Courtney , Voter: "You should be able to use your gun for any situation, self-defense at least."

Levon Green, Voter: "To me, it gives people the grounds to just start shooting without even thinkin' about what they're doin'."

A final decision on the bill is expected to be made during Florida's next legislative session, which begins in March.