Drive-By Shooting In Lakeland Injures Ten People
Police know little about the incident, except that four masked shooters in a blue Nissan sedan fired into a building, wounding ten people.
“The vehicle slowed, did not stop, and the four windows went down. It appeared to be occupied by four shooters in the vehicle,” Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor remarked. “They started firing from all four windows of the vehicle and shooting males on both sides,” he added. Eight victims were seriously injured and three were transported to local hospitals via ambulance.
Police are looking for at least four males who may have been wearing facial coverings, according to Taylor. He urged members of the community to call in with any information they may have that could help with the investigation.
Elements of a Drive-By Shooting Case
Section 775.084 of the Florida Statutes covers “drive-by” shootings, a phrase that doesn’t appear anywhere in Florida law. Instead, Section 775.084 forbids intentionally or maliciously throwing a “deadly missile” into a vehicle or dwelling. A bullet is obviously a deadly missile. Bricks or rocks are deadly missiles as well. According to Florida courts, grapefruits and oranges are also deadly missiles, at least in certain situations. Covered structures include:
- Occupied or unoccupied public or private buildings,
- Motor vehicles, whether they’re occupied or unoccupied, and
- Buses, planes, boats, trains, and pretty much any other mobile or stationary enclosed structure.
Defendants who discharge firearms within 1,000 feet of a covered structure, whether or not someone is hurt or killed, commit second-degree felonies. It’s also a third-degree felony to “knowingly direct any other person to discharge any firearm from the vehicle.”
A lesser 775.084 violation, like fruit-tossing or target shooting in a residential area (e.g. shooting tin cans off a fence), is a first-degree misdemeanor. So, a 775.084 infraction has a built-in lesser included offense. A lesser included offense plea is one of the most favorable plea deals a Tampa criminal defense lawyer can arrange.
UCW (unlawfully carrying a weapon) is another possible lesser-included offense. Frequently, investigators can track down the people who participated in the drive-by shooting, but they cannot prove these individuals were at the scene, and they certainly cannot prove these individuals pulled the triggers.
Investigators usually don’t start with witnesses at the scene, especially if they only saw masked men in a Nissan. Instead, investigators focus on area parolees, probationers, and active criminal defendants. These individuals often provide information about the crime in exchange for leniency.
A Tampa criminal defense lawyer can often invalidate these tips in court. Most people will say almost anything for love, which in this case is leniency, or money. It doesn’t matter if the information was accurate. The process is all that counts, and in this situation, the process was tainted.
Other procedural defenses in these cases include Fourth Amendment search and seizure violations and Fifth Amendment “you have the right to remain silent” infractions.
Substantive defenses are available as well, such as a lack of evidence, which was mentioned above. Prosecutors must prove guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. Without rock-solid eyewitness testimony or strong physical evidence, this burden of proof is very difficult to meet.
Section 775.084 also includes some built-in affirmative defenses. For example, in some cases, it is a defense if “the discharge does not pose a reasonably foreseeable risk to life, safety, or property.”
Attorneys usually leverage procedural , substantive, and /or affirmative defenses during pretrial negotiations. If the defense is strong enough, prosecutors often readily agree to reduce felony illegal discharge to misdemeanor illegal discharge or UCW.
Count on a Dedicated Hillsborough County Attorney
A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start fighting for you.