TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Floridians who threaten to use a gun, or even fire a warning shot, could avoid criminal prosecution under a law signed by Gov. Rick Scott. Scott on Friday signed the bill (HB 89) partially inspired by a Jacksonville woman initially sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a shot near her estranged husband during an altercation.
The woman, Marissa Alexander, is awaiting a new trial. Alexander had tried to assert a "stand your ground" defense, but a judge rejected her claim.
She was sentenced under the state's "10-20-Life" law that requires mandatory sentences for using a gun. The new law, however, would allow for instances of threatened use of force without falling under the rule of "10-20-Life." It marks a significant change to the state's self-defense laws.
Alexander's defense team issued the following statement in response to the bill:
"We learned today that Governor Rick Scott has signed the corrective Stand Your Ground Bill, which was advanced by the legislature as a result of concern about Marissa's case, among other. We are of course grateful for the Governor's actions.
The Court in Jacksonville has under submission Marissa's Motion for Stand Your Ground hearing under the revised statute, which has been fully briefed by both parties."