A 20-year-old Raleigh woman is accused of firing several shots during a dispute outside of a bingo parlor earlier this month. Police say the shots ended up almost hitting a sleeping fireman in a nearby fire station.
The woman originally faced charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, going armed to the terror of the public, being intoxicated and disruptive and discharging a firearm in the city. This week, police arrested the woman again and added an additional charge of discharging a weapon in an occupied property, according to the arrest warrant filed in the Wake County Magistrate’s Office.
The woman is accused of firing a silver pistol at another woman, as part of what police say was an ongoing dispute between the two. The bullets missed the other woman entirely, but ended up entering a nearby fire station on Pecan Street. Police say one bullet managed to enter the station through a window ledge and traveled over a sleeping firefighter, through a partition and across the empty bed of an off-duty firefighter before hitting a cinder block wall and falling to the floor.
As a result of the new charge, the woman is being held in the Wake County jail on a $25,000 bond.
This situation brings up several interesting points within criminal law. First, it is important to realize that an act as simple as firing a gun can result in numerous charges. Often times, the prosecutor brings as many applicable charges against the suspect as possible to provide more bargaining power for negotiating a plea agreement, if any.
Another issue that comes to mind is double jeopardy. Can a person be arrested for the same crime twice? Yes. A person just cannot be tried for the same crime twice, according to the Constitution. So prosecutors can, and often do, drop and re-bring charges against someone or add additional charges for the same incident. However, it all must happen before the trial.
Finally, the doctrine of transferred intent is also relevant. Had the firefighter been shot and killed by one of the bullets, the woman could be accused of murder even though she had no intent to harm the firefighter. Her intent to harm the other woman would transfer to the firefighter.
Source: Newsobserver.com, “New charge filed in shooting that narrowly missed sleeping fireman,” Staff Reports, 3/18/2011.