10 / 20 / Life Statute
The 10-20-Life statute is a Florida law that requires mandatory minimum sentencing if a defendant used a firearm while perpetrating certain forcible felonies. The name of the law is based on the three mandatory minimum sentences that it requires. If you are charged with possessing, carrying, displaying, or using a firearm while committing a forcible felony, you should retain an experienced St. Petersburg gun crime attorney. This law is very serious because it removes discretion from the judge to sentence you to a lower sentence if it is your first offense or there are other mitigating factors. At Hanlon Law, we understand how grave charges involving the 10-20-Life statute are, and we may be able to provide a tough, aggressive defense.The Application of the 10-20-Life Statute
If you are found to have carried, used, displayed, or even just possessed a firearm or destructive device while perpetrating one of the forcible felonies listed in the statute, the judge may be required to sentence you to a mandatory minimum sentence. The forcible felonies are murder, robbery, sexual battery, burglary, aggravated battery, arson, kidnapping, escape, aggravated child abuse, aircraft piracy, aggravated abuse of an elderly or disabled adult, unlawful throwing of a destructive device or bomb, aggravated stalking, carjacking, home invasion robbery, trafficking in certain drugs such as cocaine or meth, or possession of a firearm by a felon.
There is a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment if you are found to have possessed a firearm while committing or attempting to commit one of the listed felonies. If you are convicted of any of these or convicted of an attempt to commit one of these felonies, and during the commission of the felony you discharge a firearm or destructive device, the mandatory minimum sentence is 20 years. You will be sentenced to at least 25 years and up to life if the prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that you fired the firearm during a listed forcible felony, and somebody suffered great bodily harm or was killed as a result.
These are simply mandatory minimum sentences — the lowest that a judge is allowed to go. Nothing prevents the court from imposing an even longer sentence as authorized by law in addition to that sentence. There is also a possibility that the judge will impose a death sentence in certain cases. You will not be eligible for statutory gain-time or any kind of discretionary early release except in very limited circumstances before you serve that mandatory minimum sentence. This is why consulting a St. Petersburg criminal attorney can be critical in preserving your future.
The court is supposed to impose the imprisonment term consecutively to any other imprisonment term that is imposed for a different felony offense. In cases involving distinct and separate crimes or distinct and separate victims, the mandatory sentence may be imposed consecutively, although it need not be if the offenses came from a single criminal episode.
A few years ago, a new bill passed that removed aggravated assault from the list of crimes for which you could be sentenced under the 10-20-Life statute. Although this seems minor, it was a big change in Florida because, at the time that the bill was passed, 209 people were in prison based on the 10-20-Life statute on a charge of aggravated assault with a weapon without intent to kill. The change in the law provides judges with more flexibility and discretion when sentencing people convicted of violent crimes. For example, under the 10-20-Life law as it stood previously, a judge was required to sentence you to 20 years’ imprisonment, even if you simply fired a gun as a warning shot and were not shooting at somebody. For example, one man is serving 20 years in state prison because he fired a warning shot to frighten off his teenage daughter's boyfriend, even though nobody was hurt. Now, a judge has discretion in a situation like that.Consult an Experienced Gun Crime Lawyer in the St. Petersburg Area
If you are charged with a crime involving a firearm in St. Petersburg, you should take it very seriously. At Hanlon Law, we understand the application of the 10-20-Life statute and may be able to represent you in these cases. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing dedicated criminal defense representation since 1994. Call Hanlon Law at (727) 897-5413 or complete our online form.