A case now before the Florida Supreme Court regarding sentencing in 10-20-Life cases will have major ramifications across the state, including on one high-profile Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. The case now being heard in Tallahassee involves a Rivieria Beach man convicted of four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm for firing five shots in the air in attempt to scare four other men, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. According to the state’s 10-20-Life laws, there is a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence for a gun crime where the gun is fired. The judge interpreted the law to read that the sentences must be issued consecutively, and said he had no choice but to sentence the man to 80 years in prison – despite the fact no one was injured in the incident.
In most Jacksonville Criminal Defense Cases, sentences are issued concurrently. That means if a person is convicted of three counts of grand theft, a judge may sentence the person to two years in state prison on each count. When served concurrently, the sentences are done at the same time and the person only spends two years in prison. There’s little disagreement that the 80-year sentence in this Florida Gun Crimes Case is excessive, but the matter may be out of the court’s hands. Justices said during the hearing the law does say the court “shall” impose the sentences consecutively, and any departure would need to be addressed by the state legislature.
Florida’s 10-20-Lilfe statutes lay out specific and mandatory penalties for gun crimes. If someone shows a gun during the commission of a felony, there is a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence. If a suspect fires a gun during the commission of a felony, a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence applies. If someone is shot, there is a mandatory life sentence. One of the most important factors in minimum mandatory sentences is that every day of the prison sentence must be served. In traditional sentences, most inmates serve 85 percent of their sentence, so a 20-year sentence is really 17 years. This Supreme Court Case is particularly relevant in Jacksonville, where a woman was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault for firing a warning shot to scare off her estranged husband. His two children were present, hence the three counts. Her 20-year minimum mandatory sentence in that Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case drew outrage and national headlines, but her conviction has since been overturned. A new trial is scheduled, but now it appears if she is convicted again, she would be sentenced to 60 years instead of 20. The stakes were already high, but it would make sense for Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys to try to hold off on a another trial in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case until it’s clear if the minimum sentence is 20 or 60 years.