Florida Woman Jailed after Turning in her Husband’s Firearms to Police
Courtney Irby has been arrested for armed burglary for acts committed while trying to protect herself from domestic violence in Polk County Florida. News4Jax covered the recent story regarding Irby who is currently charged with Armed Burglary, a felony punishable by life under Florida Law. The arrest has caught the attention of law makers as well as both sides of the “gun control” debate.
The MSN news article lays out the facts as police reported what happened in these two cases. Irby and her estranged husband are going through a divorce. Her husband, Joseph Irby, was recently arrested for Aggravated Battery- Domestic when he allegedly rammed Courtney Irby’s motor vehicle with his own motor vehicle. He was arrested on June 14, 2019. The incident began in the courthouse parking lot and continued to the roadways were the husband continued to attempt to run the victim off the road. A review of the police report on the husband shows that the victim was speaking with 911 during the incident, so this 911 call’s recording will certainly be used as evidence. When the police spoke with the victim the report states that the victim was uncontrollably crying and stated numerous times “She was in fear for her life.”
A further review of the court records show when the husband went through first appearance court (Bond Hearing), the Judge set a $10,003.00 bond with Pretrial Services. Pretrial Services is a program that acts similar to probation while an individual is out on bond. A defendant may be required to wear a GPS monitor, SCRAM monitor (anti alcohol leg monitor), weekly drug testing, weekly visits with a case manager, ordered to have no contact with the victim, ordered not to travel or leave the county of arrest, and various other conditions. In the instant case the husband is required to call into Pretrial Services every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as well as to check in with Pretrial Services after each and every court date. The husband was also ordered to have no contact with the victim, and to follow the conditions ordered in an injunction between the husband and the wife. The husband is also prohibited from leaving the State of Florida without permission from the Judge. Should the husband violate any of his court ordered conditions of pretrial release, he is subject to his bond be revoked and set at zero and he will wait in jail until his case or the resulting sentence is over.
The husband bonded out of the Polk County Jail on June 19, 2019 and his attorney has already filed a motion to request his Pretrial Services order modified so that the husband may travel out of the State of Florida for work purposes.
After the husband was arrested, the wife filed with the Court system a Domestic Violence Injunction for Protection from her husband. A temporary injunction was granted by the Court and hearing date was set for June 28, 2019. A temporary injunction acts very similar to a regular injunction, and is often granted by a Judge to keep individuals safe until a hearing can be conducted with live testimony in which the Judge will then make a decision to grant a permanent injunction. An injunction has two parties. A petitioner is the person seeking the injunction. A respondent is the person the injunction would placed on. When deciding to grant or deny a temporary injunction, all the Judge has to review is the sworn affidavit or the words written down by the petitioner. If a temporary injunction is granted, the respondent must forfeit all of his/her firearms and have no contact with the petitioner. The injunction is not a criminal matter. It is handled in a civil court division normally referred to as Domestic Violence Court.
After the temporary injunction was granted against the husband is where the wife has found her own self fighting a criminal case of her own. On June 15 the wife entered the Lakeland Police Department to surrender the firearms owned by her husband. Her rationale was that the husband would not surrender the firearms on his own, so in fear of her own life, she went to his home, went through a locked front door, took the guns, and brought them to the Police Station. During this time, the Police Officer asked the wife if she had permission to be in the husband’s home, which the wife admitted she did not. The officer at this time determined that the wife had broken into the husband’s home, which is a burglary (Second Degree Felony, punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison). Further complicating matters for the wife, since she took the firearms out of the home, she was charged with an armed burglary (First Degree Felony, punishable by up to life in Florida State Prison). The wife was also charged with two counts of Grand Theft of a Firearm (Third Degree Felony, Punishable by up to 5 years in Florida State Prison).
In first appearance count, the Judge Determined probable cause existed, and set bonds of $1000.00 for each grand theft and no bond on the armed burglary. It is important to note, that a punishable by life felony under Florida law gives the Judge the ability to set no bond. The wife’s attorney filed a motion to set bond shortly after the defendant’s arrest in which the Judge went from the no bond on the armed burglary charge to a $5,000.00 bond in which the wife posted shortly after.
The Charges Each Face
The husband’s charge of aggravated battery is located under Florida State Statute 784.045. An aggravated battery is defined as:
A person commits aggravated battery who, in committing battery:
1. Intentionally or knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement; or
2. Uses a deadly weapon.
(b) A person commits aggravated battery if the person who was the victim of the battery was pregnant at the time of the offense and the offender knew or should have known that the victim was pregnant.
In reading the police report, the State of Florida will rely on element number two, in that the husband used a deadly weapon to commit the battery. It is long established under Florida law, that a motor vehicle is a deadly weapon.
The wife’s charged of armed burglary is located under Florida State Statute 810.02. An armed burglary is defined as:
Entering a dwelling, a structure, or a conveyance with the intent to commit an offense therein, unless the premises are at the time open to the public or the defendant is licensed or invited to enter.
The State will be required to show that the wife entered into the home of her estranged husband with the intent to commit a crime upon entering. Here the husband’s home would meet the definition of a dwelling. The crime the wife was going to commit once inside was grand theft, or the taking of the firearms. Note that if she had broken into the home and did not find any firearms, she still had the intent to steal them, which is all the State of Florida must prove.
The armed burglary distinction comes from Florida State Statute 810.02(2)(b):
- Burglary is a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if, in the course of committing the offense, the offender:
- Is or becomes armed within the dwelling, structure, or conveyance, with explosives or a dangerous weapon.
It is important to point out, it does not matter that the wife did not show up armed, simply arming herself with the firearms while inside of the home gives the State of Florida the ability to prosecute the wife under this statute. Further, the fact that the wife actually possessed the firearm during the crime could subject her to a ten year minimum mandatory under Florida’s 10/20/Life laws.
The theft of the firearms will be governed under Florida’s general theft statute located at 812.014:
(1) A person commits theft if he or she knowingly obtains or uses, or endeavors to obtain or to use, the property of another with intent to, either temporarily or permanently:
(a) Deprive the other person of a right to the property or a benefit from the property.
(b) Appropriate the property to his or her own use or to the use of any person not entitled to the use of the property. The theft of any firearm under Florida law is a grand theft regardless of the price or amount the firearm costs (812.014(2)(c)). Even though the wife’s stated intentions were to protect herself, she did not have permission to take the firearms from her husband. Further, even though she immediately turned them into the Police, she can still be shown to have temporarily deprivived her husband of the firearms, his property.
Domestic Violence cases are extremely complicated. The Polk County State Attorney’s Office will have to make difficult decisions on both the husband and the wife’s cases. The husband’s aggravated battery case occurring directly after a day in divorce court, in the courthouse parking lot is problematic for his defense team. The wife, fearing for her own life, trying to protect herself, admitted to committing a more serious offense under Florida law by committing an armed burglary. The prosecutors in Polk County will certainly use their discretion on how to appropriately charge the wife under Florida law as although likely provable, there are certainly extenuating circumstances in this case in regards to the wife. The police reports themselves show that the wife clearly did not have criminal intent in this case the same way a random stranger would have had breaking into the husband’s home. She did apparently have the intent to deprive her husband of his property.
Should you, a friend or a family member have the above have similar property crime or violent assault charges, consult with a Jacksonville (Duval), Nassau, Baker, Bradford, St. Johns and Clay County criminal defense attorney. Several North Florida criminal defense attorneys offer free consultations and case analysis to include free jail visits to meet with those charged in crimes but are currently unable to bond out. The Forbess Law Firm, 904-634-0900, offers the free consultations and jail visits.