Bill Would Grant Immunity in ‘Warning Shot’ Cases

Post Date: September 29, 2013

(Miami Herald) A bill filed last week by a Polk County lawmaker is intended to address what he called “the negative, unintended consequences” of Florida’s 10-20-Life sentencing law by granting immunity to people who fire warning shots to protect themselves and others.

It’s the second time that Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, has filed the measure (HB 89), which he calls the “Defense of Life, Home and Property Act,” and which died in committee during the 2013 legislative session.

The new bill was filed on the same day that the First District Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman sentenced to a mandatory 20 years in prison for a shot fired during a domestic dispute in her home.

Under the 10-20-Life law, possession of a firearm while committing certain felonies is punishable by at least 10 years in prison, while discharging a firearm while committing those felonies is punishable by at least a 20-year sentence. Hurting or killing someone in those circumstances requires 25 years to life in prison.

Combee said his measure was inspired by Alexander’s case.

“Nobody was hurt, yet she’s facing 20 years behind bars,” he said. “There’s other people that do all kinds of damage to others and don’t get sentences like that.”

The bill is backed by House Judiciary Chairman Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who was a co-sponsor last year and said Friday he would probably do so again. Read more