Florida’s 10-20-Life Law, originally created in 1999, was to address concerns about gun violence in the state of Florida. It got its title by referencing the minimum amount of years an individual would face for a conviction of a crime involving the use of a firearm.
By “use of a firearm,” the law applies to both the actual and implied use of a firearm or other device designed as a weapon. Depending on the crime in question, the individual could theoretically be charged under the 10-20-Law statute just for holding a gun or other firearm and never discharging the item.
Like many similar laws and initiatives, 10-20-Life has its own catchphrase: “Use a Gun, And You’re Done.”
In 1998, the state of Florida recorded more than 31,000 violent crimes involving firearms. Seeking to dissuade further criminal acts while addressing the sheer volume of gun violence in the state, newly-elected Florida Governor Jeb Bush introduced the 10-20 life law in 1999.
How It Works
10-20-Life requires the judge presiding over a hearing to impose a set sentence on a person convicted of a crime while carrying and/or discharging a firearm.
- 10 Years
The minimum sentence for being armed during the crime in question.
- 20 Years
The minimum sentence is if the individual actually discharged the weapon/device while engaged in the alleged crime.
Actually refers to 25 years to life in cases where the individual discharged the weapon/device and someone else was seriously injured or killed as a result.
Additionally, the statute also includes several other mandates:
- A minimum term of 3 years for possession of a firearm by a felon,
- The minimum term of imprisonment be served consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed
- An increase to the minimum term of 15 years when the offender possesses a semiautomatic firearm and its high-capacity detachable box magazine or a machine gun.
Mandatory minimum sentencing rules come into play for these charges:
- Aggravated Battery
- Aggravated Child Abuse
- Aggravated Abuse of an Elderly/Disabled Adult
- Aggravated Stalking
- Aircraft Piracy (no listing of nautical piracy)
- Drug Trafficking
- Escape (referring to escape from jail or police custody)
- Felony Possession of a Firearm
- Home Invasion
- Sexual Battery
Why It’s Important
The gun laws in the state of Florida are far reaching and may seem tougher or more lenient depending on what state you are coming from. Since Florida has a “Stand Your Ground” law regarding self defense, a person could try to use self defense as a strategy to avoid conviction under the 10-20 Life law. However the list of applicable crimes under 10-20-Life are some of the most serious acts you can engage in and using a gun while engaged in these crimes makes the possibility of conviction with mandatory terms of jail time likely.
Florida Senate Bill 228 deleted mandatory minimums for aggravated assault from the list. the bill did this by deleting aggravated assault from the list of crimes to which 10-20-Life applies. As a result, persons who are convicted of only an aggravated assault offense will no longer be subject to the 10-20-Life penalties.
Contact Top West Palm Beach 10-20-Life Defense Attorneys
If you were arrested for a crime in possession of a firearm, then you need an aggressive defense team by your side. The 10-20-Life defense attorneys at Farkas & Crowley specialize in these types of criminal cases. We have successfully defended multiple clients who have faced the 10/20/Life conviction, and we can help seek the best possible legal outcome for your case.