The 10-20-Life Law

In 2004, a Florida man was convicted of aggravated battery with a firearm when he shot at the ground to intimidate someone and the bullet ricocheted into the victim’s ankle. The man was recently let go on appeal, and then taken back to prison because of the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines set by the 10-20-life law, statute 775.087. According to Fox News, midway into the sentence, the law was changed to give judges more discretion, the man was set free after spending 11 years of a 20 year sentence in prison, turned his life around, and was promptly put back in prison on grounds that even though the 10-20-life law had changed, it did not apply to people who had already been sentenced, and did not apply to all crimes. But what is the 10-20-life law?

10-20-Life Mandatory Minimums Put 15,000 People in Prison

In the past, the 10-20-life law was much more rigid than it is now. It used to be a mandatory minimum of 10 years for displaying a gun during the commission of any felony, 20 years for firing the gun during a felony, even if it was a warning shot, and 25 years to life if another person was wounded by the gun. There were no exceptions available for judges to make. Since the law was created, over 15,000 people have been incarcerated under its mandatory minimum sentencing, according to the Miami Herald. However, the law was changed in 2016, and is now less harsh.

The 10-20-life statute is a set of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for people convicted of various firearm offenses during the commission of a crime. According to the statute, when a person is charged with a felony, other than a felony dependent upon a firearm as an element in the crime, and that person carries, displays, uses, threatens to use, or attempts to use a firearm or any weapon, or during the crime the defendant commits battery, their sentencing will be reclassified in the following ways:

  • A third degree felony will become a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison;
  • A second degree felony will become a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison; and
  • A first degree felony will become a life felony, punishable by up to life in prison or the death penalty.

The mandatory minimums are still in place, though judges are allowed more discretion than before. One of the mandatory minimums still in place is as follows. Committing any of the following felonies while possessing a firearm during that felony is a 10 year minimum sentence:

  • Murder;
  • Sexual battery;
  • Robbery;
  • Burglary;
  • Arson;
  • Aggravated battery;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Escape;
  • Aircraft piracy;
  • Aggravated child abuse;
  • Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult;
  • Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb;
  • Carjacking;
  • Home-invasion robbery;
  • Aggravated stalking;
  • Various drug trafficking; and
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon.

Contact the Skier Law Firm Today

Whether you have been charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, or firing a gun during the commission of a felony, your entire future is at stake. You need experienced legal counsel on your side at once. Contact the West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyers with the Skier Law Firm today.

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