When is Pepper Spray Legal to Use?

A 19-year-old woman was arrested and charged for five counts of battery for her alleged use of pepper spray, according to the Miami Herald. She allegedly used pepper spray to flee the scenes of multiple department stores after shoplifting and being pursued by security guards. She allegedly sprayed multiple security guards on separate occasions during their pursuit, which unleashed a noxious cloud of pepper spray into the air ducts of one of the stores that required the evacuation of 400 shoppers. She is facing five counts of battery and battery against a law enforcement officer, despite the fact that the security guards were not law enforcement. Simple battery, as defined in Florida statute 784.03, occurs when a person:

  • Actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of the other; or
  • Intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.

Battery is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000. If the defendant has already been charged and sentenced for battery, any additional charges will be counted as a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000. However, the defendant is facing five separate counts of battery, in addition to one count of battery against a law enforcement officer. Battery against a law enforcement officer is a third degree felony on the first charge.

The Use of Pepper Spray in Self Defense

Pepper spray, a non lethal self defense device, is legal to own but not always legal to use. Much like a firearm, pepper spray cannot be used on another or in public unless there is a real threat of physical violence and harming another is the only way to stop it from occurring. What you may have thought was necessary to defend yourself, could in fact be charged as a crime depending on the circumstances, witnesses, and other evidence. You may have been confused, disoriented, or simply frightened into believing that you needed to defend yourself. Or, maybe you were completely justified in your use of pepper spray and the accusations of battery are unfounded. If you are facing battery charges because you used pepper spray to defend yourself, you should talk to a lawyer.

What is Pepper Spray?

Pepper spray, also referred to as the brand name Mace, is a chemical irritant that causes temporary blindness, nausea, intense pain, and intense coughing and breathing difficulties. The active ingredient, capsicum, that used in pepper spray cause the eyes to swell shut, which is the mechanism for the temporary blindness. It has actually been deadly in some cases. Pepper spray’s most common use is by law enforcement officers, particularly during the process of breaking up protests. Its usefulness in self defense is also highly prevalent and it can be contained in a pocket, purse, small pouch, or palm of the hand, making it very accessible in many circumstances.

Call a Lawyer Today

If you have been charged with battery for using pepper spray, call the West Palm Beach attorneys of the Skier Law Firm today. We are eager to assist you with your case.

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