Shooting or Throwing a Deadly Missile
In order to pass criminal laws, the legislature does studies, determines what type of criminal conduct they want to prohibit and punish, produces drafts of the law and eventually votes the law onto the books. The legislature’s intent, however, sometimes gets lost in the language of the statute. Worse, police and prosecutors will sometimes try to expand the words in the law to prosecute people for all sorts of conduct that the legislature did not originally intend to punish. Shooting or throwing a deadly missile is one of those statutes.
Shooting or throwing a deadly missile is a second degree felony that punishes the act of wantonly or maliciously shooting or throwing a missile into a home or vehicle. Like many criminal statutes, the language of this law is less than specific and unfortunately leads to abuse from law enforcement and overcharging at the hands of the prosecution. If you have found yourself charged with this criminal offense you should immediately seek out a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer to aid you.Elements and Penalties
Shooting a deadly missile is a second degree felony punishable by a sentence of up to fifteen years prison. Because of the potentially harsh penalties faced by those accused of this crime, it is essential that you understand the proof required to convict someone of this offense.
The state is required to prove beyond every reasonable doubt that the defendant either shot with a firearm or threw a deadly missile at a home or occupied vehicle. The term “missile” as used in the statute, does not refer to a military style rocket, but instead extends to nearly any object that the prosecution could imagine. The state can prove that an object is a deadly missile if it could possibly be used in a way that would produce either death or great bodily harm. The term deadly missile therefore includes objects like rocks, baseballs, beer bottles, bricks, or any other hard object that could potentially cause someone to suffer great bodily harm.
The prosecution is also required to prove that that “deadly missile” was shot or thrown into a home or vehicle “wantonly or maliciously.” This means that the state does not even have to prove that the defendant’s actions were intentionally meant to cause any harm. “Wantonly” is typically defined as the use of gross or careless negligence. So even if there is no evidence that the defendant intentionally threw or shot a deadly missile into a home or vehicle, the prosecution can still attempt to prove their case by arguing that it was done in a negligent manner. Because of the harsh penalties and the vagueness of the law, it is essential that anyone charged under this criminal statute retain an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer.Defenses
The defenses to shooting or throwing a deadly missile will often revolve around disproving the elements that the State must establish. Your lawyer may be able to establish that the “missile” that was allegedly thrown was not or could not have been a deadly object. Sometimes police and prosecutors will overreact and charge people with this crime when the object thrown was something nondeadly like a fruit or plastic bottle.
Often, in these types of cases, it is difficult for the state to prove the identity of the person who allegedly threw the deadly missile. A skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney may be able to poke holes in the state’s case and demonstrate to a jury that they lack proof that the defendant was the person who actually committed the offense.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
If you have been charged with shooting or throwing a deadly missile, the lawyers at Hanlon Law are here to build the best defense for you. Don’t hesitate and call us today at 727.897.5413.