In the state of Florida, a program called 10-20-life imposes mandatory minimum terms of incarceration for certain gun crimes. The 10-20-life rules apply to even relatively minor gun offenses where no one is hurt, such as a felon in possession of a firearm. For more serious gun crimes, you could face life in prison.
Not every gun crime charges leads to serious consequences. An experienced Tampa criminal defense lawyer can help you raise possible defenses to help you avoid a guilty verdict. A Tampa gun crimes lawyer can also help you to negotiate a plea bargain to lesser charges in certain cases to avoid the serious sanctions of 10-20-life. To learn more about how a St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer can help you, contact Stechschulte Nell today.
Florida Gun Crimes
In Florida, you must have a license to possess a firearm and you must use that firearm lawfully. Certain individuals are not permitted to have guns, including people with a felony on their record. If you do have lawful possession of a firearm, it is illegal to use that weapon to commit a crime, intimidate someone or cause someone harm.
Offenses related to firearms are punished harshly under Florida’s 10-20-life rules. For example:
- Felons who are in possession of firearms are subject to a mandatory minimum three year prison term if convicted of felon in possession charges.
- Committing certain felonies, such as armed robbery, or attempting to commit certain felonies while in possession of a firearm or destructive device will result in a 10-year mandatory minimum prison term if convicted.
- If a firearm is discharged illegally or during the commission of a crime, a conviction leads to a mandatory 20-year prison term.
- If someone is injured or killed by the firearm, there is a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years to life.
Under the law, these prison sentences must be served consecutively with other terms of incarceration that you may be sentenced to based on the other crimes you committed. For example, if you are serving time for armed robbery and robbery with a firearm, you would serve your prison sentence for armed robbery and then your prison sentence for possessing a gun during the robbery.
Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon
Other laws in Florida also impose harsh penalties on those convicted of gun violence. For example, a simple battery charge becomes aggravated battery – a second degree felony with a possible 15 year prison sentence – if you use a gun or other deadly weapon.
Defenses to Gun Crimes Charges
If you are charged with a gun crime, a Clearwater criminal defense attorney at Stechschulte Nell can help you to raise a number of different defenses. For example, three possible defenses that may help you to avoid conviction include:
- The identity defense. This defense centers on raising doubts as to whether law enforcement can actually prove that you were the one with the firearm. When arguing an identity defense, you can raise issues of witness bias and witness impairment. Police may have put you into a biased lineup, or the witness may have seen you elsewhere before and simply picked you out of the lineup because your face looked familiar- but not from the crime. Remember, all you have to do is introduce doubt as to your guilt in order to avoid conviction.
- Self-defense. You have the right to defend yourself with deadly force, including the use of a firearm. Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws, you have the right to use this force without the need to retreat. If the victim had a gun or caused you to experience reasonable fear or apprehension, you may be able to successfully avoid conviction by proving you acted to defend yourself.
- Lack of proof of actual possession. Law enforcement has the burden of proving that you actually had a gun during the crime that you committed. If they are unable to do this, then you cannot be convicted of the crime. Issues that may arise when arguing lack of proof of possession include whether police found your fingerprints on the gun or whether law enforcement did a gun residue test to detect the presence of gun powder on your hands.
Contact Stechschulte Nell
Because of the serious nature of gun crimes, it is imperative to seek legal help from a qualified Tampa criminal defense attorney as soon as you are accused of a crime involving a deadly weapon. Stechschulte Nell has represented many clients facing gun crimes charges and helped them to achieve the most favorable outcome possible. Contact us today to learn for a free consultation.