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Florida 10/20/Life Law Allows for Consecutive Minimum Prison Sentences for Single Episode

The Florida 10/20/Life law creates very severe penalties for people convicted of certain crimes where a gun was involved. The law provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years if the defendant displays a firearm, a mandatory minimum of 20 years if the defendant discharges the firearm and a mandatory minimum of 25 years to life if the defendant shoots someone and causes serious injury or death. Additionally, a defendant can be sentenced to multiple consecutive mandatory minimum prison sentences for a single episode if there are multiple victims.

In a recent case in Jacksonville, Florida, the defendant committed an armed robbery with a firearm against two people in a single episode. He threatened both of them with a gun. Police arrived during the armed robberies, and the defendant fired at the officers. The defendant was charged with two counts of attempted murder for shooting at the police officers and two counts of armed robbery. The 10/20/Life statute applied to both charges since the defendant displayed a firearm during the armed robbery and discharged the firearm during the attempted murder of the police officers. After the trial, the defendant was given the 10 year minimum mandatory sentence for each of the two armed robbery charges plus additional 20 year minimum mandatory sentences for each of the two attempted murder charges. Because the mandatory minimum sentences were run consecutively to each other, the defendant was sentenced to a total of 60 years of mandatory minimum prison time.

The criminal defense lawyer objected to the consecutive mandatory minimum prison sentences for a single episode. The court held that the 10/20/Life statute does allow for consecutive minimum mandatory sentences where a defendant discharges a firearm during a single episode but with more than one victim. Therefore, the two consecutive 20 year prison sentences were affirmed. While there did appear to be some precedent for invalidating consecutive mandatory minimum prison sentences where a defendant does not discharge the firearm, the court approved the consecutive mandatory minimum sentences for the armed robberies as well. Therefore, the court held that a defendant can be sentenced to multiple consecutive mandatory minimum prison sentences under the 10/20/Life law even where the defendant uses the firearm in a single episode, if multiple victims are involved.