Threatened Use of Force


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. People who fire a warning shot instead of shooting someone would not be charged with aggravated assault and go to prison under legislation moving quickly though the state legislature.

Supporters say the change is needed because some prosecutors don't understand the stand your ground legislation.

Marissa Alexander fired a shot to allegedly scare off an abusive ex-husband. She got 20 years but she's being retried. Lee Wollard is in the same predicament, turning down probation because he didn't think he'd done anything wrong.

Rep Katie Edwards, D-Miami says it has to change. "We owe a duty to people like that to protect those who don't belong in prison until 2028 because they threatened use of force."

Legislation moving quickly at the Capitol clarifies stand your ground. Many believe the law is already clear, but Marion Hammer of the NRA says a change is needed because some prosecutors, including the one who prosecuted Marissa Alexander, are misusing the law. "If you actually shoot an attacker the law protects you. But if you merely threaten to shoot an attacker, some prosecutors try to put you in prison."

But the legislation will do nothing for those people who are already serving prison time, only those going forward.

Prosecutors have reservations about the bill and sheriffs, like Polk County’s Grady Judd, spent this week working against the change. "I don't think you can safely shoot a warning shot in the City of Miami, or Jacksonville, or Tampa, or St. Pete."

But pawn shop owner and gun shop dealer Mark Folmar says no one wants to shoot to kill if there's an alternative. “I think anything that you could do short of shooting somebody is better than shooting somebody.

The legislation could be one of the first bills debated by the state House. The legislation encourages those already in prison to request clemency from the Governor.


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