Mandatory Minimums-Warning Shot

Marissa Alexander, right, listens to a Sheriff’s deputy during a hearing Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Jacksonville, Fla. Alexander, accused of firing a gun at her estranged husband and his two sons in what she said was self-defense took a plea deal on Monday, in a case that first got attention because her attorneys used Florida’s “stand your ground” law in its defense, arguing that she feared for her life before discharging the weapon. She will receive credit for the 1,030 days she has already serve. She must serve 65 more days and will return to jail Monday. Had the 34-year-old Alexander, of Jacksonville, been convicted of all counts at her second trial in the case, set to begin Dec. 1, she would have had to serve 60 years because of Florida’s minimum-mandatory sentencing rules when a firearm is involved. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bruce Lipsky, Pool)

A Florida woman pleaded guilty and accepted a three-year jail sentence for firing a warning shot at her husband during an argument.

Marissa Alexander, 31, faced three felony counts in connection with the August 2010 warning shot, fired after her husband attacked her and threatened to kill her. A jury initially found her guilty in May 2012 and Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in prison, the minimum under state statutes for anyone who fires a gun in the commission of a crime.

According to the Florida Times-Union, a higher court later threw out Alexander’s initial conviction, ruling that the trial judge gave incorrect instructions to the jury. In her new trial, which had been set to begin Dec. 1, Alexander faced 60 years in prison—under a recent state court ruling, her 20-year-minimum sentences on each of the three counts would now have had to be served consecutively, not concurrently.

On Nov. 24, Alexander accepted a plea deal which would sentence her to three years in jail. The 1,030 days Alexander has already served would count toward that sentence, making her eligible for release on Jan. 27. According to the Times-Union, a sentencing hearing has been scheduled for that day, making it likely that Alexander will be sentenced and then released based on her time already served. Under the plea deal, she will have to serve two additional years of house arrest with an ankle monitor.

In 2010, Alexander and her husband, Rico Gray, got into an argument over some text messages. Alexander went to the bathroom and locked herself inside, but Gray broke through the door and grabbed her neck.

Alexander fled into the home’s garage and returned with a gun from her car. When Gray threatened to kill her, Alexander said she fired the gun as a warning shot at the wall; Gray was uninjured.