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In special remembrance of Elizabeth Macias and her 2011 Black Friday pepper spray incident, we’ll run through the dos and don’ts for the busiest shopping day of the year in the hope that you’ll stay out of a Tampa Bay area jail. As you may recall from last year, Macias was accused of unleashing a hellfire fury of pepper spray on other Black Friday shoppers in Porter Ranch, California. Initially police claimed Macias hosed down her shop mates over discounted X-Box gaming systems. After the “spray” settled Macias faced no felony charges and ultimately threatened to sue Wal Mart for inadequate security. At the end of the day the failure to file charges isn’t overly surprising if there was in fact a scrum around the X-Box’s and there was a risk of injury to her or her children. It would be tough for a prosecutor to show she wasn’t happily hosing others in self defense or defense of her kids. We hope you find the following tips helpful in avoiding Machine Gun Macias’ fate.

Don’t use pepper spray on other people. If you do in Tampa, Florida you will face at minimum, a battery charge and perhaps and aggravated battery if the spray causes permanent injury to another. All that is necessary to show a battery is that you intentionally touched or struck someone else against his or her will, OR intentionally caused bodily harm to someone else. No one I know enjoys being doused with pepper spray so chances are if you break out the water weenie full of pepper juice, you’re guilty of battery. For an excellent explanation of assault and battery check this Jacksonville criminal attorney‘s write up.

Where things could get really serious is if your pepper spray causes permanent harm to a third party. If you hit someone in the eye and said eye is permanently broken, you’re going to face second degree felony charges for a Florida aggravated battery. Aggravated battery charges generally mean prison time. I’ve never been to prison but I’ve been told the selection at commissary isn’t quite as nice as Target. Food for thought.

Don’t threaten someone whether you have pepper spray to back up your threat or not. In Florida, if you threaten someone by word or act and have the immediate ability to do so coupled with an overt act that leads them to believe you’re about to make bad dreams come true, you my friend, have committed an assault. Assault is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Possibly worse is the fact that your shopping day will be done.

If you don’t get that hot ticket item you’re shooting for, do not literally threaten to shoot someone and then take the item from him or her. That’s called robbery friends! Robbery is when you steal something from someone by the use of force. Without a weapon you’re looking at a second degree felony in Tampa. If you do use a sidearm you could go to jail for the rest of your life. My friends that are Judges have hinted that they don’t really like this crime and tend to punish harshly. See paragraph 3 with respect to the shopping options at your local prison commissary.

Don’t cruise to the store while loaded up on pre-Christmas egg nog. This should be a no brainer. Not only does booze and Xanax impair your driving ability, it inhibits your ability to collect your bounty of discount gifts. If you get pulled over on the way to or from the store and Officer Friendly finds you to be driving while intoxicated to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired, your day is over and you’ll go to the drunk tank for a DUI. If cousin Bilbo is still hard charging from last nights Wild Turkey belly shot contest and does something to endanger the safety of another, he’s going to be cited or arrested for disorderly intoxication.

Lastly and most insignificantly, don’t break the store’s property or the property of another. Should you willfully damage the property of another in order to reap your bounty, you could be facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge of criminal mischief depending on aggregate value of the broken property.

Our Tampa criminal attorneys hope these hints and pointers are helpful as you embark on your Black Friday shopping escapades. Years have taught us that nothing brings out the “crazy” like Black Friday deals! If you find yourself unable to avoid arrest on this hallowed shopping day, contact a Tampa criminal lawyer at The Mayberry Law Firm at 813-444-7435. We’re available from 9AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday. Even on Black Friday.

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