By now you have probably heard about the alleged gunman who entered the Broward County courthouse. The Sun Sentinel reported that the gunman accused of entering the Broward County courthouse on Friday morning was granted bond.
Bond conditions include a psychological evaluation and forfeiture of all firearms.
Bond was set at $11,000, which is reasonable given the charges.
It is alleged that the accused was a litigant in a child support case, which was pending before a judge at the Broward County courthouse. Distraught over the direction of the child support case, it is alleged that the accused had bypassed courthouse security and threatened to shoot himself, according to reports.
The accused gunman was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, improper exhibition of a firearm, and carrying a concealed firearm. Prosecutors sought a $75,000 bond, a mental health evaluation, forfeiture of weapons, and alcohol and travel restrictions.
Feeling that a $75,000 bond was unreasonable, the judge imposed a more standard bond. In my career as a criminal defense attorney, I have handled many bond hearings in Broward County and it is not unusual for Broward prosecutors to seek unreasonably high bonds.
Specifically, it is alleged that the accused was late for a hearing that was supposed to address the accused's failure to make recent child support payments. That's when authorities say he entered the courthouse lobby through the exit doors and triggered the 30-minute standoff.
Broward Sheriff's deputies and even a judge were able to persuade the accused to lay down his gun.
County records show that the accused is facing foreclosure and has pending contempt charges for failure to pay child support. It is possible that his dire financial straits led him to this irrational act. The accused's best defense may be to explore alternative sentencing, such as mental health treatment and probation.
The carrying a concealed firearm and improper exhibition charges should remain, but I believe that the aggravated assault count has no merit. It is not alleged that the accused aimed the gun at anyone nor put anyone else in danger. It seems as though the accused gunman was only a danger to himself.
I practice criminal defense in Miami-Dade and Broward and have represented clients in need of mental health treatment. Through downward departure motions I have been successful in getting clients alternative sentences rather than the jail or prison time that the State was seeking. That's because the justice system understands that people who suffer from mental illness should be treated and not warehoused in jail.
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