As two men were struggling for control of a gun, the gun accidentally discharged striking a homeless man. The man died. Now, a 38-year-old man is facing manslaughter charges for his death. A witness told police that the two men had gotten into an argument at a gas station. One man shoved the other into an ice machine, and that’s when someone pulled a gun.
Police spoke to the man who was shoved into the ice machine and he told them that he did not know the man with whom he’d gotten into a confrontation. He told police the man yelled at him and shoved him, but did not indicate what started the confrontation.
According to the second man, who has not been charged. He attempted to leave the gas station by bicycle when the other man attempted to ride him down. Fearing that the other man was going to strike him with his vehicle, he pulled his gun. The two men struggled and the gun went off striking the homeless man.
Elements of manslaughter
Manslaughter is a complex crime, partly, because it’s hardly ever charged. Prosecutors generally try to get murder charges in cases where there is some element of voluntary intent. Hence “voluntary manslaughter” is often a contradiction in terms because the individual cannot “voluntarily” have attempted to kill someone and be charged with a lesser crime than second-degree murder.
In this case, the guilty intent is not to kill a person, but to engage in conduct that was culpably negligent and inexcusable that resulted in the death of another person. Here, the defendant is accused of picking a fight, convincing another person that their life was in danger, and forcing them to act in a defensive manner. Since the man reasonably concluded that a guy trying to run him down in a vehicle was a threat to his life, the man who discharged the weapon will not face charges (at least for the shooting).
In this case, the defendant is accused of attempting to assault or injure someone. The person tries to defend themselves, and as a result, a third party is struck by a bullet. In the chain of events, the first cause was the man retaliating after an altercation at a gas station. As soon as he committed an act that a reasonable person could conclude put their life in danger, it triggered an exception under the law that allows people to use lethal force when threatened.
In fact, Florida’s self-defense laws are the most comprehensive in the nation. Prosecutors routinely avoid prosecutions in which a defendant has a credible claim of self-defense. Prosecutors have to prove that a defendant did not fear for their life, an argument so hard to make that most prosecutions will not survive summary dismissal. Hence, why the other man isn’t facing charges.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re facing felony charges, you’ll need an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney to defend yourself from the allegations. Call The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to discuss your situation in more detail and allow us to begin preparing your defense immediately.