A Jacksonville man is turning to police and prosecutors after his neighbor’s gun accidentally went off, sending a bullet through the wall near his stairway. The law’s response? Sorry, we can’t help you. The homeowner called police shortly after the incident – which came moments after the victim’s daughter was playing right by the staircase, according to a report on News4Jax. The police officer wrote in his report that while the neighbor was extremely negligent, no one was injured and there was no criminal intent, therefore no Jacksonville criminal charges would apply, the television station report. The officer is right. If the bullet would have hit someone, charges would almost certainly be filed – likely attempted manslaughter or manslaughter (if someone was killed). Absent anyone being hit, the most common charge people might think of would be improper exhibition of a firearm in Duval County. But that charge applies when someone brandishes a gun with the intent to scare someone. The law states the suspect must show the gun in the presence of another person, exhibiting the weapon “in a rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner, and not in necessary self-defense.”
That is certainly not the case here. The victim said his neighbor ran right over, asked if everyone was OK, then took his bullet and left, according to the news report. There was no confrontation beforehand, nothing that would lead the neighbor to show he had a gun or try to intimidate the victim. The victim is now trying to get an Jacksonville injunction against his neighbor that prevents him from owning a gun. That also seems like an unlikely scenario. The right to bear arms is a fundamental right in our country. That right can be forfeited – most commonly if one is convicted of a felony – but until then that right is almost impossible to take away. There could be civil penalties involved. For example, the neighbor could be forced to pay for patching the hole in the wall or any other property damage that occurred. But, in terms of an actual Duval County gun crime to be charged, there is nothing here.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County Gun Crimes Lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.