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Pointing a finger gun at an officer could earn Florida man jail

Finger guns, the kind you make with your first two fingers and your thumb, are generally the sort of thing that you would expect only grade-school kids to take seriously -- unless you happen to point one at an officer of the law and make a little threat while you're doing it.

In that case, the law in Florida may just take the gun you made with your fingers almost as seriously as if you had pointed a real weapon at the officer instead.

However, the public defender's office is questioning the constitutionality of the 2016 law under which the charges have been made, saying that the law -- which makes it a crime to threaten a police officer, an officer of the court or firefighters with death or serious harm -- intrudes too far on the right to free speech because it is too vague.

According to the arrest records, a Miami man with a criminal past and a distinctive gang tattoo spotted a police officer he recognized as the officer was collecting her daughter from daycare.

The ex-con put his fingers together and mimicked firing a gun at the officer and called to her by name while shouting out something along the lines of, "I got you now."

The officer took his gesture and comment as a threat and the ex-con has been charged with yet another crime -- albeit a misdemeanor this time.

The question of whether or not his statements are a protected form of free speech or a threat hinges mostly on whether or not his intent to threaten the officer was clear. To the officer, it seemed crystalline -- especially since she's had issues with the defendant in the past. However, the public defender's office says that there's no evidence that he was stalking her or genuinely threatening her -- just essentially "mouthing off" when he had the opportunity.

His case is one of several the public defenders are using to challenge the law, so the outcome of his situation is likely to remain unknown for a while.

Whatever your situation, if you've been arrested and charged with a crime, seek help from a criminal defense attorney promptly.

Source: www.miamiherald.com, "Finger gun and free speech: Miami man accused of cop threat challenging Florida law," David Ovalle, June 30, 2017

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