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Misdemeanor or Felony? A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Analysis of Public Paintball Shootings in Miami Gardens

November 19, 2018

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The Miami Gardens police department arrested three juveniles for paintball attacks that left several people injured. Apparently, the juveniles went on a shooting spree with their weapon of choice being paintball guns. Paintball guns are used in a competitive teaming shooting sport where teams use guns powered by compressed air and fire gelatin-filled capsules to eliminate each other. The combatants wear protective gear, including goggles to prevent eye injuries. There has a been a recent trend of paintball attacks in local neighborhoods, including Allapattah and Wynwood, which have led local police to search for people involved. While on its face, the attacks seem harmless, individuals that engage in this type of behavior can be subject to prosecution for fairly serious charges. The Miami criminal defense lawyers at DMT have represented individuals charged with similar offenses in the past.

Paintball Shootings
Those arrested in these attacks can be charged with a variety of offenses, including aggravated assault, simple assault, aggravated battery, simple battery, and shooting or throwing a deadly missile. Simple assault and battery are first degree misdemeanors, punishable up to a year in jail. An assault is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act that creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent. In this particular case, the assault occurred when the defendants pointed the gun at the victims as long as the victims were aware that the guns were being pointed at them. Battery occurs when a person actually and intentionally touches or strikes another person against the will of another. When the victims were actually struck with the paintballs, a battery occurred.

If the prosecutor handling the case wants to escalate the severity of the case, he or she can charge the felony offense of aggravated assault and aggravated battery. Both charges are felonies with prison time as a potential penalty. While these charges are more difficult to prove, the State would only have to show that the paintball guns are deadly weapons to elevate the charges to felonies. While it's a stretch to show that a paintball gun is a deadly weapon, it can be argued by the State that a paintball gun could cause death or serious bodily injury to an unsuspecting and unprotected victim on the street. Experienced criminal defense lawyers will zealously argue that paintball guns are not deadly weapons, as they are used by individuals every day to shoot others in a game that never results in death or serious bodily injury.

Another offense that could be charged is shooting deadly missiles into dwellings or conveyances. This offense is a second degree felony punishable up to fifteen years in prison. The offense is defined as shooting a hard substance which would produce death or great bodily harm into a dwelling or conveyance. Firing a paintball gun into a home or into a car being operating by someone could constitute this offense. Again, the State would have to prove that a paintball could cause death or serious bodily harm.

While it may seem funny to shoot paintballs at unsuspecting victims, these activities can lead to arrests and incarceration. The best advice a layer can give is to use the paintball guns as they were intended and avoid being arrested and prosecuted. Call the Miami criminal lawyers at Donet, McMillan & Trontz at (305) 444-0030 for experienced legal advice.

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Categories: Felonies, Misdemeanors
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