A 16-year-old who allegedly shot a man in the head is being held without bail while facing attempted murder charges. The 16-year-old will be tried as an adult for attempted first-degree murder, a crime that carries the same sentence as a successful first-degree murder. In other words, this 16-year-old may have just forfeited the rest of their life for his role in the shooting.
The victim, who was struck in the head with a bullet, managed to survive the shooting and was able to provide evidence to investigators. Investigators also had the suspect on video firing the gun from the backseat of a Chevy Cruz.
The victim told police that he thought he was being followed into the mobile home park and then heard something like rocks hitting his window. He was able to identify the shooter’s name as “Jose.” The suspect’s name is also Jose.
At first, the suspect was non-cooperative but eventually told police that he was in the area to buy narcotics when two other vehicles pulled up alongside him. Sensing imminent danger, the suspect fired on the suspicious vehicles. The victim told police that it was either “them or me”. Under Florida law, that is a valid defense, just not while you’re committing a felony.
The video does not corroborate the suspect’s story. PBSO police say that the video shows the Chevy Cruz “chasing” the two vehicles with the suspect hanging out the rear window attempting to fire.
Tried as an Adult
It’s rare for the court to charge a 16-year-old as an adult for every crime except murder. In Florida, the crime of attempted murder carries the same judicial sentence as a successful murder. Therefore, the teen will be charged as an adult. The question then becomes: Will they be sentenced as an adult?
In Florida, the defense will almost certainly call a stand-your-ground hearing. These are very difficult to prove in most situations. However, you can’t be in the midst of initiating a crime to raise a stand-your-ground defense. The prosecution will argue that the suspect was in the trailer park attempting to either acquire drugs or to settle a beef. A defendant cannot place themselves in harm’s way by breaking the law and then raise a stand-your-ground defense.
On the other hand, felony murder can also be charged as second-degree murder depending on what “predicate offenses” resulted in unlawful death. Drug trafficking is a predicate offense that would result in a first-degree murder charge. But no one died. For that reason, this case may not be as cut-and-dried as it seems. Much will depend on what the prosecution can prove the suspect’s motives were at the time of the shooting. Otherwise, they may only have him on weapons charges.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
The Skier Law Firm, P.A. represents those charged with serious crimes. Call our West Palm Beach criminal attorneys today to learn more about our services, discuss your situation, and begin preparing your defense.