The mother of a 2-year-old boy who shot his father in the back with a Glock 19 has been charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. She was on parole at the time of the shooting, so she’ll be facing a parole violation as well. DCFS has removed the remaining children from the home.
There are three elements to this crime. The first and most obvious is the possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Both parents had been charged with criminal neglect of their children and narcotics possession. The second element of the crime is the unlawful storage of the weapon and the ease with which the child gained access to the gun. It remains unclear, specifically, how that happened.
Mandatory minimums for weapons charges
Florida imposes a mandatory minimum sentence of at least three years for anyone convicted of a firearms violation with a felony record. But when they say possession is 9/10ths of the law, they really do mean it. What, specifically, does it mean to “possess” a weapon and can the defendant lay the blame on her former husband and the father of her children for bringing the weapon into the house?
The law makes room for two types of possession: Actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession occurs when the weapon is on your person or in your vehicle. Constructive possession occurs when you have simple access to the weapon. Actual possession is punished more severely than constructive possession.
In this case, it appears likely that the defendant will claim the gun belonged to her husband and that she was unaware that it was not locked up properly. She can admit to constructive possession of the weapon because it was in a home where she was residing but not be responsible for bringing the weapon into the house or making it available to the children. In fact, if she didn’t know about the weapon, there would be no way to charge her with either culpable negligence or illegal possession of a weapon. While the penalty structure remains the same for constructive possession of a weapon, there is no mandatory minimum that needs to be served.
The best defense at this point would be to argue that the husband brought the weapon into the house in violation of his parole and the wife was unaware of the gun. The prosecution must still prove that the defendant had knowledge of the gun in order to pin any crime on her at all. They may be a tall order for prosecutors. It’s quite difficult to prove what someone knew.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The Skier Law Firm, P.A. handles weapons charges related to unlawful discharge, unlawful possession, and negligent storage. Call our West Palm Beach criminal defense attorneys today to schedule an appointment and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.