In Florida, If you punch a judge, prosecutor, witness or pretty much anyone in the head (or anywhere else) during a criminal trial and you are found guilty – you’ll get an increase in the charge against you. (So, if you have a third-degree felony charge and you attack the judge – you’re now convicted of a second-degree felony, which carries a harsher sentence). 


Right now ‘almost anyone’ doesn’t include your own defense attorney. It happens more often than you’d think. WCJB in Gainesville reported on another incident on December 21st. 


A representative for Niceville in the State House and former judge Patt Maney wants to change the law to protect defense attorneys and public defenders from attack. 


House Bill 71 would extend those protections and punishments in Florida courtrooms.  


“This bill doesn’t change [the existing] law except to add [defense attorneys]. It adds in those who are most vulnerable, because they’re closest, physically, to the defendants and therefore, most likely to be potential victims,” Representative Maney said. 


By upgrading those sanctions against people who might attack their own defense attorney in the court – Representative Maney hopes to ensure equal justice under the law. 


“Well, I think it’s one of those bills, it’s not glamorous. And it’s not gonna get a lot of headlines. But for those instances where it will come into play, it’s gonna be quite important,” Maney Added.

Other Focuses for the 2023 Session

Mental Health in Florida

For the third year in a row, Representative Maney will also attempt a complete overhaul of the Baker and Marchman acts. Previous bills would have updated the 50-year-old laws which govern how everyone from law enforcement, to medical professionals and social workers interact with and deal with mentally ill or drug-addicted persons in the legal system. 

Currently, a bill has not been filed on the record with the Florida House of Representatives, but the 2022 version of the bill is available for viewing here.

Military Service Personnel’s Ability to Terminate Lease Agreements

In addition to HB 71, Representative Maney – a retired brigadier general in the US Army – filed House Bill 73, which would ease some of the burdens for service personnel to terminate lease agreements when they are given orders to permanently change station. 


The proposed bill would allow protections for personnel who have to move before their lease runs out to enact the same provisions for military house that a private company owns.

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