South Florida Woman Faces Weapons Charges After Child Shot
Poor judgment and need for a nap abruptly turned into criminal charges for a South Florida woman whose lapse in caretaking led to a 7-year-old boy being shot by his sibling. South Florida’s NBC News Channel 2 covered the story, in which officers were dispatched to a residence at 2 a.m. and found a child bleeding and being held by the 32-year-old woman. Police and emergency responders arrived to provide treatment, and the victim was taken to a local hospital where he is expected to fully recover. However, the woman faced weapons charges because of the underlying circumstances: She had left a 20-gauge shotgun near the back door of the home after checking outside for a disturbance, and then fell asleep.
Officers allege that a younger child accessed the firearm and shot the boy, which is what led to the woman’s arrest. A Fort Lauderdale weapon offenses lawyer can assist if you are facing a similar situation, but an overview of the story will help you realize the severity of the charges.
Multiple Counts and Applicable Penalties
Though there are implications of child abuse and neglect laws as described below, the key gun crime at issue in the current case is unsafe storage of a firearm. To get a conviction, the prosecutor must prove:
- You stored or allowed a firearm to remain in such a way that you know or should know that a minor is likely to gain access to it;
- The gun was loaded as defined by law;
- You did not keep the firearm in a securely locked box or other container that prevents access by the minor, or you failed to install a trigger lock on the gun; and
- The minor did, in fact, gain access to the firearm.
The offense is a Second Degree Misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Unfortunately, the facts that support an arrest for unsafe storage of a fireman also implicate the woman in several other crimes. She is also charged with child abuse and child neglect, which could also lead to jail time and fines – as well as ramifications for child custody and her parental rights in family court.
Strategies for Fighting Gun Offenses
As with any criminal case, an initial defense tactic is preventing the prosecution from proving its “case-in-chief,” i.e., the four elements of unsafe storage of a firearm. Remember that the prosecutor is required to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; also, keep in mind that your state of mind is a component of the case. You may be acquitted if there is a question about whether you should have known a child could access the gun.
Contact a South Florida Gun Crimes Defense Attorney to Discuss Options
Florida law protects your Second Amendment rights, but there are numerous implications when it comes to your responsibilities as a gun owner as well. If you were arrested for unsafe storage of a firearm, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik to schedule a consultation at our offices in Fort Lauderdale.