Accidental Shooting or Discharge of a Firearm

orando assault defense attorney

In the state of Florida, the “stand your ground” law enables a law-abiding citizen to use deadly force in defense of themselves or bystanders. A person must have a well-founded fear that an assailant will use deadly force to hurt him or nearby bystanders to legally use deadly force in self-defense.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such legal concept of a warning shot when it comes to firearms. Firing a weapon under any circumstances, other than to defend oneself against imminent death, permanent disability, or great bodily harm is a crime, even if the shooter intended to do so in self-defense. If you are accused of accidentally discharging a firearm in Orlando, an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to argue that you discharged the weapon because of a well-founded fear of great bodily harm or death.

Accidental Shooting and Intent in Florida

It would have to be proven that the shooter did not intend to actually fire the weapon at the time it occurred or did not intend to fire at a particular target for a shooting to be accidental. In firearms jargon, an accidental firing of a weapon is sometimes referred to as a negligent discharge. The distinct difference is that a negligent discharge is almost always a consequence of lack of firearm safety.

One distinction, however, is that regardless of intent, felony battery or aggravated assault can still be charged against a defendant whether they intended to fire a weapon or not. Aggravated assault and felony battery are more victim-centric crimes, in that the damage done to a victim or the well-founded fear of imminent violence with a deadly weapon are greater factors than the intent of the defendant.

Understanding Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Battery

Throughout the United States, the terms “battery” and “assault” are mistakenly used interchangeably. In the state of Florida, assault and battery two distinctly different crimes.

The elements of battery are essentially the following:

  1. Actual intentional touching of another person
  2. Any unwanted touching with the intention of causing harm

The elements of assault are essentially:

  1. A threat or action that creates the well-founded fear that violence would imminently take place in the mind of another person

Either offense may become an aggravated offense if the court believes the defendant used a deadly weapon. If you point a firearm at someone creating the well-founded fear that death or great bodily harm would  imminently occur, that would constitute aggravated assault. If you shoot someone with a firearm, that would constitute aggravated battery or felony battery, depending on the intent. It’s also possible to argue in favor of attempted murder, also depending on the intent.

Felony Battery Versus Aggravated Battery

Proving intent is irrelevant when it comes to the crime of felony battery. If a negligent discharge occurred, leaving someone with permanent disability or great bodily harm, the shooter would be charged with felony battery if it were accidental.

The key distinctions between aggravated and felony battery are the following:

 

  • Intent- Intent matters for aggravated battery; it doesn’t matter for felony battery.
  • Great Bodily, Harm, or Death- Both crimes are possible if the three aforementioned outcomes happen after violence is done upon someone by another person.

 

No matter the charges faced, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Florida can make the best case in a court of law.

Adept Accidental Shooting Defense Attorneys in Orlando

At the Umansky Law Firm, we know what it takes to defend those accused of accidentally discharging a firearm. We have defended countless clients facing accusations of violent crimes and have obtained many successful outcomes.

Led by the husband-and-wife team of Zahra and William D. Umansky, our legal team brings more than 100 years of criminal defense experience to the table. No matter the charge, we provide thorough defense and personalized attention to each and every case. Give us a call 24/7 at (407) 228-3838 or complete our online contact form today.