What Charges Could the Ft. Lauderdale Gunman Face?

The recent airport shooting in Ft. Lauderdale gripped the nation after the horrific tragedy unfolded, leaving some to question the possible charges that could be facing the gunman.

As it stands, the gunman was already being prosecuted on charges of domestic violence for strangling his girlfriend. According to charging documents uncovered by the Daily Beast, the gunman assaulted his then-girlfriend in January of 2016 in a disturbing domestic incident. He was arrested for these actions days later and released on condition of having no contact with the victim. He broke those conditions, leading to a charge for violating the conditions of his release. The case for these matters is still pending.

Alaska court records also show a criminal record for previous traffic infractions and an assault case that was resolved via a deferred prosecution agreement. These agreements dismiss charges in exchange for the completion of certain agreed upon requirements, which are unknown in the gunman’s assault case.

Of course, these legal issues — while extremely serious in their own right — pale in comparison to the carnage the gunman inflicted on innocents at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. That said, it is essential to remember that all defendants, even those in the public eye for heinous deeds, are entitled to a legal defense.

Murder charges for the death of the five people victimized by his actions appear to be a foregone conclusion, but there could be additional charges included such as assault, various weapons offenses, and attempted murder.

Additionally, since an airport can technically fall under state or federal jurisdiction, there is a very real possibility that prosecutors could take the murder charge to the federal level. Should prosecutors go in the federal direction, that is significant since Florida’s death penalty system is in something of a legal upheaval. At present, there will likely be a period of weeks where prosecutors may not seek the death penalty until the muddled situation is clarified by lawmakers in the state.

Meanwhile, while extremely rare to seek the death penalty in federal cases, there is recent precedent for doing so. The similarly notorious shooting at the Charleston church last year led to the defendant, in that case, becoming the first person convicted of a federal hate crime to get the death penalty. As such, the current state of flux for Florida’s death penalty laws increases the likelihood of a federal prosecution if the death penalty is sought.

While the outcome of this case is unknown, it provides a sobering reminder of the importance of a Florida criminal defense lawyer when defendants face legal charges that will affect their ability to live their lives as a free man or woman.


From his Destin office, John F. Greene represents criminal defendants charged with crimes and fights to have their charges reduced or dismissed entirely. John represents Destin defendants as well as defendants throughout Northwest Florida and the Emerald Coast, including Santa Rosa, Walton, Bay, and Okaloosa Counties. Additionally, John represents defendants in the communities of Destin, Niceville, Fort Walton Beach, Panama City and Santa Rosa Beach.

If you are in need of a Florida criminal defense lawyer who will zealously defend you with a strong legal defense against all charges you face, contact Destin defense attorney John F. Greene or call 850-424-6833.

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