An Army veteran has been charged with 12 criminal counts for firing two shots off in the air that hit no one. He didn’t hurt anyone.
This is a case of blatant prosecutorial abuse.
The trial of Army Veteran Randal Ratledge, 58, is scheduled to start with jury selection on Monday. He is facing 120 years in jail if the charges are served consecutively. About 20 years is the best he can hope for if convicted. Under Florida’s 10-20-Life law, anyone convicted of a crime involving the firing of a gun gets a prison sentence of at least 20 years.
The prosecutor knew that when he charged him.
The veteran said he had taken Ambien which affected his judgment.
Ratledge, 58, was charged with six counts of aggravated assault after a 2012 incident involving his neighbors. Authorities said Rutledge fired shots in the air and screamed profanities at the six neighbors. He was charged with one count of aggravated assault on each of the neighbors.
Outrageously, prosecutors are determining the sentences instead of judges.
“The problem with our system now is judges have no discretion,” defense attorney Bill Sheppard said. “Prosecutors decide the sentence, not judges.
The state could waive the mandatory minimum.
This is the second time Ratledge will go on trial. He was previously convicted of the same charges, but that conviction was thrown out before sentencing when Circuit Judge James Daniel ruled that Ratledge’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated during the trial.
Officer C.R. Deal, who questioned Ratledge the night he fired the shots, testified in front of the jury that Ratledge told him “he made a mistake and that he did not want to talk about the incident.”
Daniel found that the comment unfairly prejudiced the jury since they knew Ratledge had invoked his right to remain silent, and exercising that right should not be held against a criminal defendant.
This has happened before in the case of Marissa Alexander who faced a potential 60 years in prison for firing what she deemed a warning shot in the direction of her abusive, estranged husband and his two young children.
Source: Huff Po