A Florida man is facing more than 100 years of imprisonment for allegedly firing a gun — even though he did not kill anybody during the reported incident. The Miami Herald reports that 58-year-old Randal Ratledge — an Army Veteran — could end up dying in prison thanks to a state law that imposes minimum sentences on gun-related crimes.
The incident reportedly took place in 2012, but the man has recently been convicted of the six counts of aggravated assault he was given. Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida, say that the 58-year-old Army Veteran came out of his home with a firearm, which he fired into the air while “yelling profanities” at his neighbors. He also allegedly fired the gun in the direction of the six people while charging at them. It’s because of this incident that he may be sentenced to approximately 120 years in prison.
Under a possible plea deal, the Florida man could get 20 years of imprisonment, but it appears that he and his attorney may reject this agreement. His attorney argues that even 20 years could be a death sentence for Ratledge, due to his old age. The Huffington Post reports that his attorney also has an interesting defense as to why the man fired his gun at his neighbors on that night in 2012. The Florida man allegedly suffered from an adverse reaction to the medication Ambien. His attorney says he did not know what he was doing at the time of the incident.
This is not the first time a resident of Florida has made headlines for firing a gun unlawfully. In fact, the arrest of Marissa Alexander went viral not long after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The woman was convicted of firing a gun at an abusive ex during a domestic dispute. She reportedly fired it as a “warning shot,” in order to keep him away from her, which turned out to be a criminal act. With Florida being a so-called Stand Your Ground state, she would have likely been acquitted had she actually hit the man at whom she shot. The public outrage that resulted in her prison sentence — which was lengthy — ultimately played a role in her early-release. She was freed from prison very shortly after her controversial conviction.
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In the case of Florida man Randal Ratledge, anything could happen. He may be convicted to more than 100 years of imprisonment, or he could get as few as 18 years. Nonetheless, nearly 20 years of imprisonment will see the man age to approximately 80-years-old — which his attorney doesn’t seem to think he will live to see. Do you think the mandatory sentence laws in Florida are doing more harm than good in cases where a firearm is discharged unlawfully?
[Image via Jacksonville Police]