Florida Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Since their creation, mandatory minimum sentencing laws have caused a lot of controversy. No matter what news outlet you use, you have probably encountered critiques of these laws. The federal government has created mandatory minimum laws for crimes such as drug trafficking for certain types and amounts of illegal substances. Many states, including Florida, impose these laws in an effort to fight increasing drug crimes. While the effectiveness of mandatory minimum laws are still up for debate, such are the laws of the land for Florida residents.
What Is a Mandatory Minimum?
The concept of mandatory minimum sentencing laws is fairly simple: for certain crimes, a convicted defendant must serve a minimum punishment. When these laws apply, judges have zero discretion to decrease the mandated punishments. Your defense attorney may be able to work with prosecutors to lower your charges, and thus avoid having a mandatory sentence apply to your case. However, if you are convicted of a crime that falls under these laws, you will serve the minimum penalty.
The actual mandatory sentencing guidelines vary depending on the type of crime. Some crimes are seen as “more serious” crimes. State lawmakers created these classifications in an effort to win the war on drugs. Florida law defines three broad types of these serious crimes:
- Drug crimes;
- Sex crimes; and
- Gun crimes.
Now, this does not mean that every drug, sex, or gun crime will fall under the mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Instead, certain crimes within these three broad categories will trigger the minimum sentences. In some cases, minimum sentences will also apply for repeat convictions of certain crimes.
Florida law sets forth serious mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking. Drug trafficking charges are often brought when someone possesses over a certain amount. Law enforcement officials assume that carrying large amounts of illegal substances means the accused intended to traffic those drugs. Minimum sentences for drug trafficking depend on the type and quantity of the drug. Upon conviction, you could face between three and 25 years in state prison under Florida’s mandatory minimum laws.
Unlike drug crimes, there is only one sex crime that will trigger mandatory minimum laws. However, the offense is quite serious. Any adult over the age of 18 who commits the lewd or lascivious molestation of a child under the age of 12 will face life in prison and a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence followed by sex offender probation or community control for life.
While there are specific drug-related and sex-related crimes that lead to mandatory minimum sentences, the gun crime category is slightly different. Someone convicted of committing certain crimes while possessing a firearm will face the mandatory minimum laws. For example, having a gun while attempting or committing robbery will lead to mandatory minimum sentences. Additionally, mandatory minimum laws will apply to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, aggravated assault with a firearm and aggravated battery with a firearm. Depending on the crime, and whether another person was harmed during the crime, minimum sentences range from three to 25 years in state prison.
Experienced Orlando Defense Attorneys
Are you facing a drug, sex, or gun crime, and worried that mandatory minimum sentencing laws apply? Contact Moses and Rooth today to discuss your concerns with an attorney during a free initial consultation. Our criminal defense attorneys are both former prosecutors, and have extensive knowledge about mandatory minimum laws. Contact our Orlando defense firm now for more information.