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Florida 10/20/Life Statute Applies to Accidental Firearm Discharges As Well

In Florida, the 10/20/Life statute is a law that provides for minimum mandatory prison sentences for people convicted of certain crimes involving guns. In such cases, if a person possesses a firearm during the crime, he/she faces a 10 year minimum mandatory prison sentence. If he/she discharges the firearm, the minimum mandatory prison sentence increases to 20 years, and if the firearm discharges and causes serious bodily injury or death to someone, the minimum mandatory prison sentence is 25 years to life.

The 10/20/Life statute applies even when the discharge of the firearm was accidental. In a recent murder case south of Jacksonville, Florida, the defendant got into a fight with another person. During the fight, the defendant took out a gun and hit the other person with it. As he hit the other person with the gun, it discharged and killed another person standing near the fight. The defendant was charged with murder for the victim who was killed and aggravated battery with a firearm for the person he hit with the gun. After he was convicted of both charges at trial, the judge sentenced him to life in prison under the 10/20/Life statute.

The criminal defense lawyer objected to the life in prison sentence arguing that 10/20/Life did not apply where the discharge of the firearm was accidental. However, the court disagreed. The court found that the purpose of the 10/20/Life law is to discourage people from having or using a firearm during the commission of a crime because the presence of a firearm increases the risk of serious injury or death. The court found that this was exactly one of the kinds of cases the 10/20/Life statute was intended to address. As a result, the life prison sentence for the accidental discharge was upheld.