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Understanding the Florida 10-20-Life Law

This story brought to you by Canan Law, voted best St. Augustine Attorney in 2012.

Florida has always been very tough on gun laws but more recently the state Legislature passed Florida Statute 775.087, the so-called Florida 10-20-Life Law. Law enforcement takes a zero tolerance approach for anyone who uses a firearm in the commission of a crime. To accomplish this, the 10-20-Life Law requires mandatory prison sentences for armed offenders.

MANDATORY MINIMUM PRISON SENTENCES:

  • Felons in possession of a firearm - 3 years
  • Pulling or brandishing a gun during commission of a crime - 10 years
  • Firing the weapon during commission of a crime - 20 years
  • Firing and injuring or killing a person during commission of a crime - 25 years to Life

The law itself seems fairly simple at first glance. However, a closer look reveals a number of details and exceptions that become important if you are charged under Florida's 10-20-Life law. For instance, the statutes don't take into account those who have no previous criminal records or those who possessed a gun but did not actually use it to commit a crime. It is also important to note, firing a weapon doesn't imply any particular aim or intent to harm: fire the gun into the air to get everyone's attention, for instance, and Florida state law demands a 20-year prison sentence for that act alone.

George Zimmerman, charged with killing Trayvon Martin in Florida will seek a hearing to dismiss the charges against him based on the state's "stand your ground" law. Florida's Stand Your Ground law enables individuals who feel threatened in a public place to "meet force with force," rather than back away. However, if convicted of second degree murder, Zimmerman faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years under Florida's 10-20-Life law.

During sentencing, the Florida gun violence statute does not allow judges any leeway, even when there are extenuating circumstances. Sentences falling under this provision are served "day for day," meaning inmates are not eligible to receive gain time toward their sentences for good behavior. Obviously you want to mount a vigorous defense to any charge involving a firearm, which is why it is important to retain an experienced criminal attorney from the start.

Remember, an arrest is not a conviction! It is crucial that you get the representation of an experienced defense attorney after an arrest involving a gun. Canan Law has provided solid legal defense for clients accused of many kinds of criminal offenses. We will help ensure that your legal rights are not violated and that you get a fair hearing.

Call us or stop by our offices at 43 Cincinnati Avenue in downtown St. Augustine if you have any questions about criminal and drug cases.

Canan Law, the most respected team of attorneys in St. Augustine, keeps you informed with blog posts discussing legal terms and Florida court cases that matter to you. Ask your legal question today with our website's live chat feature!

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