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Florida sheriff's deputy charged with manslaughter

Not everyone who is accused of a crime is the stereotypical "hardened criminal type." Anyone is capable of breaking the law, including those charged with upholding it; and when they are so accused, they can face the same potentially severe penalties as the average citizen. This is the essence of a recent news account from Broward County that involves a police shooting which resulted in the death of a 33-year-old man.

At the time of the shooting the deceased was carrying an air rifle. The defense claims that he may have been unable to hear the sheriff's deputy telling him to put the air rifle down because he was wearing ear buds at the time of the shooting, but the attorney for the family of the shooting victim disputes that contention.

The grand jury that considered the matter has found sufficient cause to charge the deputy with manslaughter. If convicted, he could face a prison sentence of up to 30 years. As is often the case with officer-involved shootings, the criminal charges are but one aspect of the overall matter: the Federal Bureau of Investigation is currently determining whether the deputy should also be charged with violating the civil rights of the deceased, and the family members of the man who was killed have also filed a civil lawsuit alleging wrongful death.

Criminal charges arising from alleged violent acts can often result in multiple charges at both state and federal levels, as well as civil legal claims. Given the potentially life-altering consequences if a conviction ensues, anyone charged with a serious crime should expeditiously seek the assistance of legal counsel that has experience in defending against criminal prosecutions.

Source: ABC News, "Florida Deputy Charged in Shooting of Man Who Had Air Rifle," Curt Anderson, Dec. 11, 2015

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