Accidental Discharge in Fort Lauderdale: Will I Face Penalties?
According to one study, there are approximately 430 unintentional firearm fatalities in the United States each year. In 2022, 19 of these deaths occurred in Florida – according to data from Florida Health. If you have accidentally discharged a firearm in Fort Lauderdale, you might be wondering what kinds of penalties you will face. The answer depends entirely on the specifics of your situation – specifics that you may wish to discuss with your lawyer.
Potential Penalties for Discharging a Weapon in Florida
Perhaps the most relevant criminal offense related to a negligent or accidental discharge is “discharging a firearm in public.” The penalties for this offense are up to one year in jail, and it is a 1st degree misdemeanor. The exact wording of this law states that you may face these penalties whether you “knowingly” discharged a firearm or “recklessly or negligently” discharged a firearm. You may be charged with this offense if the discharge occurred on a private residence or a public area outdoors.
If the discharge was truly accidental, prosecutors will need to prove that you acted in a reckless or negligent manner. In other words, they must show that you failed to follow proper firearm safety protocols and that this failure caused the discharge. For example, you might have exercised poor trigger discipline with the firearm fully loaded. You might have been cleaning the weapon despite having a cartridge in the chamber. Or perhaps you forgot to engage the safety before handing the weapon to a small child. Whatever the case may be, a simple or honest mistake may not qualify as negligence or recklessness under this statute.
Defending Yourself Against Legal Consequences
Sometimes, firearms genuinely malfunction and discharge due to serious manufacturing or design defects. Your ammunition may have overheated and ignited due to circumstances out of your control – and the discharge may have been caused by intense heat or a random spark. There are numerous ways to establish that the discharge was truly accidental – and that this does not represent negligence or recklessness.
What Makes an Accidental Discharge Worse?
Various factors can make a firearm discharge much worse. Even if it was accidental, an injury to another person could lead to serious criminal offenses – including those related to battery. If the round kills someone, you could face manslaughter charges. If a child was involved, you could also face child endangerment penalties. If the round goes into someone else’s home, you could face penalties for a shooting into a dwelling.
Find a Qualified, Experienced Firearms Defense Attorney in Florida
If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced firearms defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale, look no further than Haber Blank. Over the years, we have assisted numerous Fort Lauderdale residents accused of firearms-related offenses. We understand that accidents happen – and you shouldn’t face excessive penalties for accidental discharges. Book your consultation today to get started with an effective defense strategy.