Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why is Erik Davis Harp not being charged with violating Florida law that prohibits carrying a gun (not to mention ammunition) into a courthouse?

Erik Davis Harp
Erik Davis Harp did not just carry a concealed handgun into a Florida courthouse; he also had ammunition, court documents show. Also, Harp is facing a single charge of carrying a concealed firearm into a government building (the Bay County Courthouse). But court records indicate Harp also violated a Florida statute that prohibits taking a gun, with or without a permit, into a courthouse. Why is Harp not facing at least one additional charge?

According to court documents, Harp did not get very far at the courthouse when he was arrested in mid March. Here is part of an affidavit from the arresting officer: (See full document at the end of this post.)

On March 15, 2016, at approximately 0930 am, the suspect in this case, Erik D. Harp, did possess a firearm and ammunition in a concealed manner while entering the Bay County Courthouse X-ray screening area. Affiant states that the suspect, Harp, stated he did not have a lawful concealed carry permit for the State of Florida or any reciprocal state.
This tells us that Erik Harp's gun was loaded, or he possessed ammunition to load it. In other words, officers' ability to detect the weapon at the screening area might have prevented a nightmarish scene.

Ironically, the officer's affidavit seems to downplay the seriousness of the offense. Our research indicates it was irrelevant that Harp did not have a permit. Florida Statute 790.06(12)(a) states:

(12)(a) A license issued under this section does not authorize any person to openly carry a handgun or carry a concealed weapon or firearm into: 
1. Any place of nuisance as defined in s. 823.05;

2. Any police, sheriff, or highway patrol station;

3. Any detention facility, prison, or jail;

4. Any courthouse;

Even with a permit, Erik Harp could not lawfully carry a firearm into a courthouse.  So why isn't he being charged with a violation of 790.06(12)(a)?

Here is the kind of irony that can happen with the law in a gun-crazy state (in the South, Midwest, Great Plains, or elsewhere.) A rational citizen might say, "Trying to carry a concealed handgun and ammunition into a courthouse seems like a much more serious offense than carrying a concealed weapon, without a permit, in a regular public place--say, a park or a grocery store."

Bay County (Florida) Courthouse
Such a rational citizen would be wrong when it comes to Florida law. Carrying a gun into a courthouse, violating Florida Statute 790.061(12)(a), is a second-degree misdemeanor. It carries a maximum penalty of 60 days imprisonment.

In contrast, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.

Under Florida law, which appears to be goofy, Harp is being charged with the more serious of two offenses. But it seems clear that he also violated state law that prohibits taking a gun into a courthouse, with or without a permit.

In fact, it seems prosecutors are trying to take the courthouse element out of the equation. It's as if Harp was caught with a concealed weapon while walking down a sidewalk. But that is not what happened, and public records suggest Harp was planning actions that could have resulted in multiple fatalities.

Is Erik Davis Harp being undercharged in this case? If so, why?


Anonymous said...

Do you have any ideas why, LS? I wasn't sure if the last question was going to lead to an answer in a future post.

legalschnauzer said...

I don't know at the moment, @11:50? It's strange. Prosecutors have brought the more serious charge, under Florida law. But as a citizen, it seems to me that carrying a gun and ammunition into a courthouse is a more serious offense than carrying a gun without a permit.

I hope investigators are trying to determine Harp's motives. Was this an act of forgetfulness or did he have plans to do someone (or several someones) harm? If so, why?

Anonymous said...

That Erik Harp is one fine looking hunk of manhood.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Harp has to carry a handgun to help fight off all the ladies.

e.a.f. said...

A. 12:49 p.m. that comment sent my drink spewing I laughed so hard. Its why some women would prefer to date trees than guys like him. Now of course one can not blame some one for how he looks, but really his demeanour says it all. He does look a little on the dumb side so perhaps they aren't charging him for the full count because he actually couldn't remember to leave his gun outside.

As a Canadian I just don't get this thing with guns. if nothing else they weigh down your purse and make your suits look goofy.

Anonymous said...

Wonder why he also wasnt charged for giving false info to police? Thats not his real address.

legalschnauzer said...

That's interesting, @11:28. Do you know where he does live? Is it a house, apartment, etc? Wonder why he would put down a fake address, and they the Marriot address.

Anonymous said...

That is his physical address.... his mailing address is a UPS Store.. 4100 Marriott Drive is a condo development in my neighborhood.

Hilarie Pearson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.