In a case, which will outrage card-carrying NRA members and anti-gun, suburban soccer-moms alike, a Westmoreland County man found out the hard way that it is not merely a Game Law violation to hunt deer without a license in a Wal-Mart parking lot. In addition to being charged with five summary offenses under the Pennsylvania Game and Wildlife Code, Arcangelo Biaco, Jr. is also charged with the second degree misdemeanor of Recklessly Endangering Another Person, commonly abbreviated as REAP.
On November 26, 2012, Mr. Bianco spotted a majestic, ten-point buck in the parking lot of the Resort Plaza Wal-Mart in Blairsville, PA. Anyone who has ever lived in rural Pennsylvania knows that deer end up in some strange places, when they are frightened away from their usual habitats during hunting season. Not one to miss a golden opportunity, Mr. Bianco grabbed his handgun and brought down the trophy buck, described by Wildlife Conservation Officer Jack Lucas as one of the nicest bucks he had seen taken in Indiana County in some time.
Obviously, it is not exactly safe to fire shots in a Wal-Mart parking lot during the busy Christmas shopping season. Fortunately, Mr. Bianco hit the deer and not an innocent bystander. Otherwise, he could be facing homicide or aggravated assault charges. Fortunately, he is charged only with REAP.
Although a second degree misdemeanor like REAP pales in comparison to homicide or aggravated assault, Mr. Bianco should not expect a mere slap on the wrist. Because a deadly weapon was used to commit the offense, the deadly weapon enhancement applies to the sentencing guidelines. Normally, a person with no prior record convicted of REAP will receive a sentence ranging from probation up to a month in county jail. The sentencing guidelines with the deadly weapons enhancement, on the other hand, call for a minimum sentence of six or seven months in county jail, for those with no prior record.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, PA.