Mandatory Minimum Sentences and Threats
Written by Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law on November 30, 2015
Recently, a bill passed in Florida’s House that would help to get rid of some of the negative consequences associated with Florida’s 10-20-Life Law. The proposed law aims at eliminating Florida’s 10-20-Life policy as a penalty for aggravated assault cases. These cases involve threatening a person with a firearm. When a person is convicted of this crime in Florida, they are subjected to a mandatory minimum sentence.
Florida’s Current 10-20-Life Law
Under §775.087 of the Florida criminal code, a person who is charged with a felony and uses a firearm, except where the firearms is an essential element of the crime, the person will be charged with aggravated battery. This winds up causing the felony to be elevated. For instance if a person is charged with a crime in the second degree but uses a weapon, then the person will be charged with a first-degree felony. Under this 10-20-Life Law, a person will be subjected to a mandatory minimum sentence. The law’s name reflects possible sentence lengths.
Under this law the prosecutor is the only person with the discretion to waive a mandatory minimum sentence. However, a judge can waive a mandatory minimum sentence for youthful offenders. Under the current law, a man who allegedly shot a gun inside a home in self-defense was subjected to a 20-year sentence even though the only destruction was to his own home.
Future of Florida’s 10-20-life Law
If the proposed bill ends up becoming law, it would get rid of the 10-20-Life penalty for aggravated assault cases. This law was introduced in the past but did not get enough votes to become law. The hope is that the new law will help prevent a first-time offender from having to go to jail for an extremely long sentence. It would provide a judge with the power to choose the length of an appropriate sentence for an individual based on important things such as whether the person has a prior record, whether anyone was injured, and other necessary factors that would help determine a sentence.
For those that oppose the bill because they feel that it does not punish those who have committed a crime and deserve to serve time, this is not the case. The law will still punish those who have been proven guilty. However, a person will not be sentenced to 20 years in jail for committing a crime like shooting a wall that did not end up injuring anyone.
If the bill becomes a law, it would take effect immediately. It is up for discussion whether this law will be retroactive and help those who are already serving out their sentence.
Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are currently facing state or federal charges in Orlando, you should contact Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law. Our experienced attorneys are available to prepare a criminal defense on your behalf. You should not allow a criminal charge to dictate your future. Do not hesitate to contact our firm at 407-377-0150 for your free consultation.