Monday, December 08, 2003

The Nice People at the St. Pete Times didn't have any new information, but very patiently explained some of the legal processes. Those of you who are attorneys or who have been arrested a lot may already know this, but it was news to me:

When an 'incident' happens, the cops arrest the most likely suspect. In this case they chose the guy that fired that gun. They take him to the station and a judge then decides about bail, if any. The information on the case is sent up to the state attorney's office, and it's the state attorney's responsibility to decide whether any charges should actually be filed, and if anyone else should be arrested and charged. Apparently being arrested doesn't mean quite as much as I thought it did. Certainly it's a pain in the backside for the arrestee; you're in jail for at least until you can see a judge and get bail and you have the very real potential of charges hanging over you, but you're not yet in 'real' trouble.

The state attorney's office has up to a year after the arrest to investigate and determine whether or not charges should be formally filed. If charges are formally filed against you by the state attorney, you are now offically in real trouble.

The St. Pete Times lady, who didn't seem especially anxious to have her name immortalized in my humble blog, was of the opinion that Spaulding would get off either completely or else very lightly. As she said, a judge doesn't release someone who's been charged with attempted murder on their own recognizance unless he or she felt that the individual was no danger to society and that the charges would most likely not be filed. The fact that misdemeanor battery charges were filed against the 3 thugs is also a good sign, as it makes a very strong statement in favor of self-defense.

SO we are all in limbo until the Pinellas/Pasco state attorney's office finishes its investigation and decides whether or not to file charges, and if so, against whom. There are apparently many possible alternatives. In between pressing the attempted murder charge and exonerating Spaulding completely, the attorney's office could offer some sort of a plea bargain like a charge of firing a weapon in public.

The problem with any sort of a plea bargain would be that it would make Mr. Spaulding lose his concealed weapons permit. Your record has to be squeaky clean, and I do mean squeaky, to have a permit.

I would still like to know why Mr. Spaulding was arrested on such a serious charge, and how many bullets he fired, and what sort of bullets the police use, and why, if a .22 is such a dangerous caliber, don't the cops use it themselves, and what, if anything, the police do in such a case to ensure the safety of a now-weaponless person, and how many guns they confiscated, and why they took all his weapons (if they really did & if he had more than one weapon to take) - probably because of the seriousness of the charge, which puts me full circle.

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