Florida’s 10-20-Life Law

Florida’s 10-20-Life law is found in Florida Statute 775.087. The law is a mandatory minimum sentencing law for the state of Florida. The law impacts the sentencing options when it is alleged that a person used a firearm during the commission of a forcible felony. Find the classification system for forcible felonies

Only the prosecutor in a case is eligible to waive any mandatory minimum. One exception applies if the judge sentences the defendant as a youthful offender which caps the maximum penalty at six years of any supervision whether it be prison or probation. 

To qualify for a youthful offender sentence, the defendant must be no more than 20 years of age at the time of the sentence.

Attorneys for 10-20-Life Crimes in Broward County, FL

If you are charged with a felony offense that comes with a minimum mandatory sentence, then contact the experienced criminal defense attorney at Meltzer & Bell, P.A.. We can help you understand the charges pending against you and how the criminal process in Florida applies to your case.

With offices in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, the criminal defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represent clients in Broward County and Palm Beach County, FL.

Minimum Mandatory Sentences in Florida

The name of the law, 10-20-Life, comes from the three minimum sentences provided for by law. Under Section 776.08, F.S., the term “forcible felony” includes any felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence or the following offenses: 

  • aggravated assault
  • aggravated battery
  • aggravated stalking; 
  • manslaughter; 
  • sexual battery
  • carjacking; 
  • home-invasion robbery; 
  • robbery; 
  • burglary
  • arson; 
  • kidnapping; 
  • aircraft piracy; and 
  • unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb;
  • treason; and 
  • murder.  

The History of Florida’s 10-20-Life Law

Right before the law was passed, firearms were used in more than 30,000 violent felonies in Florida. In 1998, before the law took effect, the mandatory sentence for using a gun in a violent felony was three years in prison. The 10-20-Life law took effect on July 1, 1999. The new law amended section 775.087 of the Florida Statutes.

The law was expanded in 2000 to cover any juvenile who was 16 years old or 17 years old who fired or discharged a firearm during a violent crime or for offenders with prior criminal records.

The 10-20-Life law in Florida requires a defendant to be sentenced to the law's maximum allowable extent for the committed felony. The mandatory sentences must be completed consecutively to any additional sentence an offender must serve.

The three main mandatory sentences include: 

  • at least ten years for producing a firearm during the commission of certain felonies; 
  • at least a 20-year prison sentence for firing a firearm; 
  • a maximum penalty is a life sentence unless the defendant is charged with felony murder or first-degree murder in which case the maximum is the death penalty if the firearm is used to shoot someone. 

Increases to Other Mandatory Minimum Sentences

The new law also created minimum sentences for anyone convicted of drug trafficking. Certain drug offenses carry a mandatory sentence of three years depending on the type of drug possessed, the quantity possessed, and whether the drug caused a death. The minimum penalties increased to 7, 15 or 25 years, life in prison or the death penalty.

Additionally, it increased other mandatory minimum sentences including:

  • At least a 3-years in state prison for felons who possess a firearm;
  • At least a 3-year prison sentence for aggravated assault with a firearm;
  • At least a 3-year prison sentence for aggravated assault on a police officer;
  • At least a 3-year prison sentence for aggravated assault on a person aged 65 years or older;
  • At least a 5-year prison sentence for aggravated battery on an officer;
  • At least an 8-year prison sentence for possessing a machine gun, or semiautomatic firearm while committing any battery on an officer or person aged 65 years or older.
  • At least a 15-year prison sentence for possession of either a machine gun or a semiautomatic gun with a high-capacity box magazine while committing a crime listed under statute 775.087;

Under Statute 784.08 for assault or battery on persons 65 years of age or older, or Section 784.07 for assault or battery of law enforcement officers or other specified person, raise the degree of the offense as follows: 

  • an assault is increased from a misdemeanor of the second degree to a misdemeanor of the first degree.
  • a battery is increased from a misdemeanor of the first degree to a felony of the third degree.
  • an aggravated assault is increased from felony of the third degree to a felony of the second degree.
  • an aggravated battery is increased from a felony of the second degree to a felony of the first degree.

This article was last updated on Monday, November 11, 2016.

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