Governor signs 'warning shot' bill into law - FOX 13 News

Governor signs 'warning shot' bill into law

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Governor Rick Scott signed into law an addition to the state's controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.

Florida citizens can now brandish weapons or fire warning shots at attackers if they fear their life is at risk, or if they fear they can be seriously injured.

Under House Bill 89, citizens can now avoid prosecution if their case fits certain criteria.

"The new law, as it stands now, allows you to claim immunity from prosecution if you used or threatened deadly force," Attorney Anthony Rickman explained.

Rickman interprets the addition to stand your ground as "filling gaps" in the prior version of the law.

The case of Marissa Alexander jumped to the forefront of the warning shot debate during her trial in 2012. She was found guilty of firing at her estranged husband and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Her defense was self-defense, but a judge didn't see it that way.

Alexander's conviction was overturned on an appeal, and she has since asked for a new trial.

"The problem was that under Florida's Stand Your Ground laws, as it was originally, it only allowed you to use that defense if you used actual deadly force," Rickman said.

Opponents of the "warning shot" addition said it will create more problems.

"Bullets have to go somewhere," Jason Collazo said. "It's going to endanger people whether they're firing into the air, into the ground, at a tree, they don't know if that surface is going to ricochet, so it's just not well thought out."

 

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