A few weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege of defending my long- time friend, Robert, before a Brevard County Jury. Robert had been arrested following an incident at his home in Indialantic, Florida. It seems that in January this year, Robert was sitting in his home office working on his computer when he noticed, on his home surveillance camera, a suspicious car pull into the driveway directly across the street from his drive way. More concerning was the fact that the passenger of the car, got out of the vehicle, pulled a hoodie over his head and face, and ran towards Robert’s open garage. Now Robert, who had been robbed twice before, had expensive equipment for his business stored in his garage, but also, his inside garage door was not locked so the burglar now running into his garage would have total access to his home through his garage which the burglar was illegally entering. Robert’s first thought was to get his weapon so he could defend himself and his home, so he ran through his house to his bedroom and grabbed his gun, as he is lawfully allowed to do, to potentially defend his life and property.
When he came out of his bedroom, now armed, he realized he had a problem. In that short period of time where he ran to retrieve his weapon, he now did not know whether the burglar was in the garage, or had entered his home. He decided his best course of action was to exit his house through his front door, and look into his garage from the outside, his back to his lawn. Worst case scenario, at least he would be outside with the burglar in the home. As he exited the front door of his home, gun in hand, and looked towards his garage, he saw the burglar running down his driveway carrying some stuff from his garage. He didn’t know what the “stuff” was but made the educated guess that since the burglar was empty handed when entering his garage, and carrying items when he left, that Robert was being robbed.
The burglar was running from his home with Robert’s property in his hands, and in the split second he had to think about it, he decided to give chase. He ran down the driveway of his home and the burglar/criminal ran across the street, jumped into his accomplice’s car, and the driver of the car immediately gunned the engine and started to move forward for the getaway.
Unfortunately, Robert had already chased the burglar into the road and was now standing in front of the car, so when the car started to move towards him, in an instinctive “OMG, he is going to run me over” moment, he shot one round into the vehicle that was coming at him and the burglar and his vehicle immediately turned away and drove down his dead end street, through a yard, onto a bike path and made their getaway. Robert immediately went into his home, calls 911, and reports the incident. He cooperates with the Police in providing copies of his surveillance video of the burglar and the incident. The police never found the burglar or his accomplice.
But here is the rest of the story: The State Attorney’s office, in its infinite wisdom, decides a few weeks later to have Robert charged with open carry of a fire arm and discharge of a fire arm in a public place. They offer Robert a deal if he will agree to enter a pre-trial diversion program, give up his concealed weapons permit, be on probation for a year, submit to drug and alcohol testing, and allow the state to confiscate his legally owned weapon; Otherwise, he would face a trial, potential jail time, and potential criminal record on his otherwise unblemished history while living and working in Brevard County for more than 30 years. In effect, the crime victim now became the criminal.
Robert called me to defend his interests, and we took the case before a Brevard County Jury. After 10 hours of trial which cost the state, my client, the court system and the jury many thousands of dollars in time, travel, lost wages, and aggravation, the Jury found Robert not guilty in approximately 20 minutes. We are still fighting with the State to recover Robert’s legally owned weapon which was confiscated by the police as part of their investigation. In a subsequent hearing the State Attorney objected to the return of my client’s gun back to him even though a jury of his peers found him not guilty so we have now come full circle: It started with a thief running into Robert’s house, Robert defended himself and he becomes the criminal. Now the State has taken Robert’s gun legally and is fighting to keep his gun making the State the thief.
Did we lose all sense of right and wrong during this episode? My position from the beginning was that we were not going to stand by and let Robert get a criminal record when he was being robbed and defending his property. The system worked, justice won out, the jury has spoken but now must continue to fight against the State to recover his lawfully owned property. The fight goes on, and justice will prevail.
When you find yourself being taken advantage of by a burglar or the state, call the law office of Morgan & Barbary or visit our website at www.Legalproblem.com. We will be there to defend you and try and put logic and good sense back into the legal system.