Shooting or Throwing Missiles - Florida Statute 790.19

weapons offenses

When people read this statute for a first time, they are confused by the word missile. Military missiles being launched from soldier’s shoulder come to mind and one wonders if this what the law is prohibiting. The term missile is just referring to something that is hard and capable of causing death or serious injury. For example, rocks, bullets, pieces of wood, doughnut shaped sprinkler protectors, BBs, bicycles, glass bottles, spears, large fruit, large computer monitors, car rims, etc. Most of these examples all come from real cases where people threw those objects and were prosecuted for this crime.

What the Prosecutor Has to Prove to Convict You of This Crime

To be convicted under Florida Statute 790.19, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) You either:

  1. Shot a gun; or
  2. Hurled or threw some hard object that would cause death or great bodily harm;

(2) You did this at either:

  1. A building;
  2. A bus;
  3. A vehicle currently in use;
  4. A boat still in the waters or moving;
  5. An aircraft flying; and

(3) You did this act wantonly or maliciously.

Prosecutors have prosecuted many individuals for breaking this crime. When they look at the facts that are given to them by the arresting police officer, the prosecutors tend to ask the question “could” not “would” the object thrown cause death or bodily harm. The high standard the prosecutor has to show is beyond a reasonable doubt would the missile cause death or great bodily harm. Prosecutors tend to look at the facts of the case with the incorrect “could” analysis instead of the correct “would” analysis.

Using an orange as an example, could an orange cause a person’s death? There might be some weird situation where the orange could hit the victim at the right angle with the right force to kill them, but if you believe in those chances, you really should play the lottery. The orange “missile” would need more facts to make it deadly. Perhaps it could be frozen, green and hard, or the vehicle could be traveling fast. One Florida court said that an orange was not a deadly missile (J.W.B. v. State) while another Florida court said a grapefruit which smashed the driver’s window of a tanker trunk resulting in the driver being cut was a deadly missile ( Wilton v. State). Another case said a 12 ounce soda bottle thrown very hard at a range of 15 yards was considered deadly. See Zachary v. State.

This crime does not include unoccupied vehicles but does include unoccupied buildings. This crime can be added on when individuals do drive by shootings. An experienced state prosecutor can add this crime whenever a gun is involved in the crime and an occupied vehicle, boat, or building is hit with the bullet.

The intent of the defendant has to be wanton or malicious. It cannot be just an accident or negligent. The defendant had to intentionally do the act with knowledge that someone could get injured or killed.

Punishment

This crime is ranked level 6 under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code. This crime is a second-degree felony punishable up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Contact The Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.

Serious crimes will require serious attorneys. This is a second-degree felony and will be prosecuted by experienced prosecutors. Our attorneys are ready to help you. Call our office today and we can get to work aggressively defending you or your loved one.

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