Image 01 Image 03

No Bail for Marissa Alexander, Case Held Over Until January

No Bail for Marissa Alexander, Case Held Over Until January

Marissa Alexander’s motion for bail was left undecided today, when the Judge responsible for the decision decided to delay further action on the matter until January 15, 2014.

Alexander’s attorney had made a request for bail in anticipation of her re-trial on charges of aggravated assault, using a firearm, against her estranged husband.

Alexander was granted a new trial early this year after her conviction for aggravated assault (with a firearm enhancement) was overturned on the grounds that the self-defense jury instructions were defective.

Alexander’s conviction was based on evidence that in the course of a heated argument with her estranged husband she retrieved a handgun from the garage, returned to the interior of the home, and fired a shot past his head and into the wall behind him (while his two minor children stood by his side).

The bullet penetrated through the wall and sped across the next room until embedding itself in the ceiling. Some have sought to characterize the shooting as a mere “warning shot” or the “shooting of a ceiling,” a characterization we’ve previously debunked here:  The Myth of Marissa Alexander’s “Warning Shot”.

Alexander always seemed a poor candidate for bail given the prior disrespect she has shown the criminal courts.

In addition to the core aggravated assault for which she was charged and convicted, Alexander also allegedly induced her estranged husband to submit false exculpatory testimony on her behalf (testimony he later retracted), repeatedly meeting with him in violation of an order of protection intended to keep her away from him and his children. She later assaulted him a second time, albeit this time without a weapon.

The next hearing in this case is scheduled for January 15, 2014, so Alexander is unlikely to have any prospect for bail prior to that date.

A major issue in the Alexander case is widespread anger over the application of Florida’s “10-20-Life” mandatory minimum sentencing law (775.087.

Possession or use of weapon; aggravated battery; felony reclassification; minimum sentence.), both in the Alexander case as well as in other similar cases where a user of force was arguably acting defensively.

Under “10-20-Life” a person committing a crime while possessing a firearm receives a minimum 10-year sentence; while firing a firearm receives a minimum 20-year sentence; while injuring or killing someone with a firearm a minimum life sentence. The Florida legislature just advanced from committee on a 12-1 vote a bill, HB-89, that would remove a defensive use of force from the scope of the “10-20-Life” sentencing framework.

The full-text of HB-89 can be seen below:

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense, Law of Self Defense Facebook

[If you like what I write, please “follow” on Twitter and “like” on Facebook]

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


The linked document is HB-203 from Ohio, not FL HB-89

HB89 or not, it doesn’t apply. There was nothing ‘defensive’ about her actions.

She left the area (and was not impeded from leaving at will), got the gun she brought with her, left the safety of her car (garage door opening for her or not, she could have stayed in it, doors locked, gun in hand), returned to the unarmed man who was trying to leave himself with his kids, and shot at him. Lucky for him she missed.

Open and shut case. And oddly enough, that kind of behavior is considered ‘serious’ these days, and gets a heavy sentence. Oh well.

The combination of the recent slap-down of HB-4003 to repeal Stand-Your-Ground and the Judge’s apparent lack of unconcern about “social justice” with respect to Alexander’s bail suggests to me that she’ll be damned lucky to get anything like the plea agreement she got the first time around–and that she’d better grab it with both hands, running, if it does present itself.

And for all the angst about 775.087 and its undeniable abuses in being applied to defensive force incidents–as pjm puts it so well, THIS case is simply NOT a case of defensive force.

Leave the site of (claimed) danger, achieve a place of non-danger, retrieve a gun, return to the site of (claimed) danger, and fire a shot just past the head of your (claimed) attacker–not so hard to understand why the first jury took just 12 minutes to arrive at a jury verdict.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

And a reasonable juror could conclude that she left the area WITH THE INTENT to go get her gun, come back, and shoot the man. Which she tried to do. Which would make it Attempted Murder with Premeditation, in the 1st degree.

With ‘discharge of a firearm’ enhancments on top of it.

She should be facing life plus 20.

Thugs threaten and intimidate people.

Just like the thugs operating in our government.

I used to be for mandatory sentencing, but it has clogged our prisons and led to a one-size-fits-all sentencing. There is a reason for a pre-sentencing report. Two people can be guilty of injuring another during the commission of a crime with a firearm (does the injury have to be from the gun?) under different circumstances, but each face a mandatory minimum life sentence. That’s just stupid.

It’s like “zero tolerance” invariably leading to zero intelligence in application, all these grand-sounding simplistic solutions to social problems impel unforeseen and unpleasant consequences, but no legislators (or educators in the case of ZT) are willing to move to repeal them for fear of looking “soft.”

The problem with lenient sentencing was and is lenient judges. We need to address the way judges are selected, confirmed, evaluated, and reviewed at all levels. But that’s hard. Passing a dumb law that sounds tough to the LIVs is easy.

As to Marissa, all the evidence thus publicly known points to someone who was not under a direct and continuing threat, who had opportunities to avoid the confrontation along the way, and who aimed and shot at her estranged spouse. I hope the judge throws the book at her.

    I R A Darth Aggie in reply to Estragon. | November 14, 2013 at 11:28 am

    There’s a reason why Florida went with mandatory minimums: judges would give relatively light sentences for relatively major crimes.

    Wasn’t there a case in the last couple of years where a teacher (?) sexually abused one of his charges, and he got like 60 days because the judge had some latitude and decided it wasn’t that bad? as I recall, the young woman involved committed suicide.

    Of course, if a family member beats this criminal within an inch of his life, they’ll get many years.

    Go ahead, tell me that’s just.

    I have to disagree, here. The reason that Florida prisons are full, is not because of the 10-20-Life law, but rather the passage of the 80% rule. This requires that persons sentenced to prison serve 80% of their sentence before release. Both these laws were enacted simply because of the excessive leniency displayed by judges and parole boards. It was not unusual for violent felons to be sentenced to as little as 3 years and serve less than 18 months. The people said enough. And, if the reduction in crime statistics are indicative, both seem to work well.

    One thing that is never discussed in the debate over the 10-20-Life law, is the fact that most people are actually offered a much reduced sentence. Alexander was offered 3 years in prison. This practice has been common since the law went into effect and has been a source of controversy since. Charges are routinely reduced to eliminate the firearm charge and circumvent the sentencing statute. And, it has to be remembered that only those who commit a criminal act with a firearm are subject to these penalties. Innocent people go free.

Ms. Alexander’s problem was that her defense attorneys did not adequately prepare her for the consequences of refusing the first plea bargain. Many times, it’s the arrogance of the defendant’s lawyers that overcome plain good sense.

I knew a guy who went to prison for 6 years in a check fraud case. Two of his relatives in the conspiracy testified against him. I said “why the hell didn’t you plead guilty and get less time?” He said his lawyer told me “I could win.”

Yeah. With two relatives testifying against you?

I sure wouldn’t like to get on her wrong side